Monday, June 12, 2017

Cross- Modal Plasticity

It is known that the enhancement of touch sense is common among the visually impaired. We see this with John Bramblitt who developed his sense of touch impressively through painting after losing his sight. Being that he was visually impaired, he was not able to just use regular paint on canvas but rather discovered "puffy paint". Puffy paint is usually used for decorating fabrics because it leaves a thin raised line on the cloth and dries almost instantly. He would outline his artwork in puffy paint and then use oil paints to fill in the rest of the picture. Bramblitt was able to figure out what colors to use by really paying attention to the fact that each oil paint depending on color used different ingredients to maintain its pigments. As I read this chapter, I saw how Bramblitt relied more on his sense of touch in order to continually paint on canvas as well as completing daily life tasks.

Recently, researchers have discovered that the reason why blind individuals have enhanced touch sensitivity is possibly due to cross- modal plasticity. For blind individuals, the areas within their brains that are mostly dedicated to sight (which is located in the occipital lobe) often start to become taken over by not only auditory but also touch sense. The sense of touch for blind individuals activates higher brain areas that are used for recognition and reaction while also activating visual regions of the brain. Blind people use their sense of touch in order to properly read Braille as well. Overall, cross-modal plasticity is a type of neuroplasticity that usually occurs after sensory loss of a certain sense through disease or damage to the brain. In the case for a blind individual, their sensory abilities for sight are lost making their sense of touch and usually hearing increase drastically.

This link shows some of the amazing art that John Bramblitt created!


  1. John Bramblitt has created beautiful paintings. I enjoyed the video you shared and I'm amazed at how beautiful and realistic his art is. Our senses are amazing, but this book has made me realize that people do so much more with their senses than I'd ever imagine. Despite losing his sight Bramblitt is extremely blessed.

  2. After watching your video I wanted to look up more of John Bramblitt's art work. His work is so vibrant and colorful it is amazing how he could create such art work and I struggle with stick figures! People see characteristics like blindness or deafness as a disability but really it just challenges people to unlock talents that they would never realized they had.