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3.4 PSYC 220 Physical Senses - Many people believe that...

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Many people believe that when people lose one of their physical senses, their other sensesbecome more sensitive to compensate for the missing sense. The idea that blind people havehearing that is more acute than others has been around for ages. Do you believe this? Why orwhy not?Montreal Neurological Institute / McGill University. (2004, July 23). The Blind Really Do HearBetter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2017 fromNearly everyone has heard the popular notion that the blind hear better than the sighted –possibly to make up for their inability to see. Now, researchers at the Montreal NeurologicalInstitute (MNI), McGill University and at the Université de Montréal have shown that the blindreally do hear notes more precisely but only if they became blind when they were very young.Their findings, Pitch discrimination in the Early Blind, were published in the journal Nature(July 15th).Dr. Robert Zatorre, a cognitive neuroscientist at the MNI at McGill University, and member ofthe research team, explained that the idea that blindness can aid musical development is an oldone. However, previous studies have not been able to quantify this possibly because they did nottake into account the age at which subjects went blind.In the present study, researchers at McGill and at Université de Montréal tested people from 3categories: those who were fully sighted, “early blind” (blind at birth or lost their sight during thefirst two years of life), and “late blind” (those who became blind later in life). The groups weretested for their ability to recognize changes in pitch. The subject listened to a pair of tones andhad to decide whether the second tone was higher or lower than the first.'Early blind' subjects outperformed the other groups in every task, continuing to make correctdistinctions as the notes got either shorter or closer in pitch. However, there were no significantdifferences in performance between sighted and late blind subjects.These findings reveal the brain's capacity to reorganize itself early in life. At birth, the brain'scentres for vision, hearing and other senses are all connected. Pascal Belin at the Université deMontréal and study leader believes that these connections which are gradually eliminated innormal development, might be preserved and used in the early blind to process sounds.
Bates, M. (2012, September 18). Super Powers for the Blind and Deaf. Retrieved March 5,

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Term
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primary auditory cortex, auditory cortex, Christina Karns

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