Some Blind People Can Still See, Researcher Explains

Sunday, July 5, 2020 - 10:48

University of Birmingham researcher could find out those with blindsight can navigate around the obstacles without tripping over a single one.

According to the Science Alert report, blindsight results from damage to an area of the brain called the primary visual cortex. This is one of the areas, as you might have guessed, responsible for vision. Damage to primary visual cortex can result in blindness – sometimes total, sometimes partial.

So how does blindsight work? The eyes receive light and convert it into information that is then passed into the brain. This information then travels through a series of pathways through the brain to eventually end up at the primary visual cortex.

For people with blindsight, this area is damaged and cannot properly process the information, so the information never makes it to conscious awareness. But the information is still processed by other areas of the visual system that are intact, enabling people with blindsight to carry out the kind of tasks.

Blindsight serves as a particularly striking example of a general phenomenon, which is just how much goes on in the brain below the surface of consciousness. This applies just as much to people without blindsight as people with it.

Blindsight has generated a lot of controversy. Some philosophers and psychologists have argued that people with blindsight might be conscious of what is in front of them after all, albeit in a vague and hard-to-describe way.

On the other hand, if we could prove that people with blindsight are conscious of what is in front of them, this raises no less interesting and exciting questions about the limits of consciousness.

In Henry Taylor research, he is interested in the way that blindsight reveals the fuzzy boundaries at the edges of vision and consciousness. In cases like blindsight, it becomes increasingly unclear whether our normal concepts such as "perception", "consciousness" and "seeing" are up to the task of adequately describing and explaining what is really going on.

The researcher’s goal is to develop more nuanced views of perception and consciousness that can help us understand their distinctly fuzzy edges.


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