Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sound helps augment poor vision for some tasks

10.11.2003


Say researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center



If you’re helpless without your glasses, try using your ears.

For some tasks, hearing can augment poor eyesight, according to research reported by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center today at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans.


"It has been long known that blind people often develop more acute hearing," said Mark Wallace, Ph.D., senior researcher. "What we’ve shown is that hearing can also help people with mildly impaired eyesight and that it works immediately – it doesn’t take time to develop. This suggests that we could find ways to reduce disability in people with vision problems such as cataracts by teaching them to use both senses."

For the study, participants sat in a dark room and were asked to point to the location of a randomly placed light. Sometimes, the light occurred at the same time as a sound.

Participants with good vision could easily localize the light – and weren’t helped by the addition of sound. But when they wore goggles that simulated nearsightedness, the sound dramatically improved their performance. "When they wore goggles, the participants’ ability to locate the light declined," said Wallace. "But when sound was added, they were just as good as when they had normal vision."

Wallace, an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy, explained that because the visual system is so good, it normally doesn’t need the auditory system to locate objects in space. But, when the function of the visual system is degraded because of nearsightedness or bad lighting conditions, people are able to use their auditory system to help their visual system.

"If people keep their glasses off and use their ears to help them locate things, they might be surprised at how well they would do," said Wallace.

Wallace said the findings support an emerging idea in neuroscience – that if one sensory system isn’t performing well, the brain can use information from other senses.

"For a long time, neuroscientists have thought of the brain as having areas for vision, areas for hearing and areas for touch. Now, we’re starting to learn that the areas talk to one another and if one area is doing poorly, the others seem to have the ability to substitute or help."

Next, Wallace and colleagues will use functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine which parts of the brain are activated during the study task in hopes of learning more about how the different senses work together.


Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is a health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University School of Medicine that operates 1,291 acute care, rehabilitation and long-term care beds.

Media Contacts: Karen Richardson (krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu) or Shannon Koontz (shkoontz@wfubmc.edu) at 336-716-4587.

Karen Richardson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wfubmc.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

nachricht Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>