Really? The Brain Gets Rewired if One of the Senses Is LostBy ANAHAD O'CONNOR
Certain regions of the human brain are dedicated to the various senses. The visual cortex handles vision, for example, while the auditory cortex processes sound.
But what happens if one of the senses is lost? Do the neurons in the auditory cortex of a deaf person atrophy and go to waste, for instance, or are they put to work processing vision and other senses?
In studies, scientists have shown that when one sense is lost, the corresponding brain region can be recruited for other tasks. Researchers learned this primarily by studying the blind. Brain imaging studies have found that blind subjects can locate sounds using both the auditory cortex and the occipital lobe, the brain's visual processing center.
But recently a similar phenomenon was discovered in the deaf. In a study financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers recruited 13 deaf volunteers and a dozen volunteers with normal hearing and looked at what happened in their brains when touch and vision responses were stimulated. They found that both senses were processed in Heschl's gyrus, where the auditory cortex is situated, suggesting that this part of the brain had been dedicated to other senses.
Other studies have shown that structural changes in the auditory cortex are noticeable in the brains of deaf children from a very early age.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Losing one sense can cause the brain to become rewired.