Blind people seem to solve math problems by using visual areas of the brain. This means that the human body is able to do more things than we thought. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University wanted to see how blind people can do math problems and what areas of the brain they are using.
They used data from 17 blind people since birth and discovered that when they wanted to solve algebra, areas of the visual cortex became active. Moreover, the activity was increasing as the problems were getting harder. What is really interesting is that they did the study on 19 people who are able to see and there was no increasing activity in that area of the brain. Researchers were surprised when they see the results.
They asked the blind and sighted participants to solve some algebra problems. The math problems were easy, such as “12 minus 3 equal x and 4 minus 2 equal x”. People have to solve them and say if the x has the same value. Of course, the areas connected with number processing became active. What researchers did not expect was to see how areas reserved for vision had an increased activity for blind people.
This could be a huge discovery. It seems that the brain can have the visual cortex to do a lot of things that are not related to senses. Scientists could use that for patients who have one area of the brain damaged. Think about it. They could use mental exercises or pills to teach the visual cortex to do those functions.
A lot of people involved in accidents are not able to do the things they did before. There are areas in their brain which do not work as they should. However, with a possible treatment, people could use how to use the visual cortex to do those activities.
We are expecting more research regarding this matter. Researchers have already discovered that blind people who have given most of the answers had the most activity in their visual cortex. It is possible that math problems are not the only thing this area of the brain can do. It is like the brain knows that one area was not used and finds another job for it. This is really surprising and makes researchers wonder what other things the human brain is able to do.
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