Friday, June 25, 2021

John Bramblitt and Cross-modal Plasticity

I’ve taken a great interest in neuroplasticity in the last couple years after first learning about it, so when I read about John Bramblitt’s story and more about cross-modal plasticity I was incredibly fascinated. Despite the fact that our brain organizes itself based on how much we utilize each region, the cortex dedicated to diminished senses do not become obsolete. After John Bramblitt became blind, he developed an enhanced sense of touch to guide him as he paints. As he uses his right hand to draw lines, he uses his left to determine where he placed that line and where the next will go. He can even make out different colors solely based on the viscosity of the paint! Brain imaging has shown that when blind individuals touch complex patterns, their visual cortex activates in systematic ways. This kind of compensatory activation also doesn't occur when induced in sighted individuals.

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