When Blind Regain Sight, Do They Know What They See?

Not at first, a new study suggests
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2011 4:18 PM CDT
Updated Apr 17, 2011 6:40 PM CDT
Children who regained their sight learned within a week how to match visual and tactile input.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Imagine being blind for your entire life and then, one day, gaining the ability to see. Would you be able to identify an object by sight, if it was previously only familiar to you by touch? A new study suggests that you wouldn't be able to at first, but would gain the ability within a week. Neuroscientists studied patients aged 8 to 17 who had sight-restoring surgery, after having been blind since birth, and found that they could not at first match what they felt with what they saw, Discover reports.

Within 48 hours of the surgery, the children were given an object to feel, then asked to identify the same object by sight. They could only do it 58% of the time. But the brain, apparently, can learn how to tie visual input and tactile input together: Within a week, the children could visually identify an object they had previously felt about 80% of the time.

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