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'Blindsight'-blind man uses senses to 'see'

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A man who was left completely blind by multiple strokes has been able to navigate an obstacle course using only his "sense" of where hazards lie.

The feat is an example of "blindsight", the ability of some blind people to sense things that they cannot see.

Scientists already knew that the man, known only as TN, reacted to facial expressions that he could not see.

To test the extend of his blindsight, scientists constructed an obstacle course made up of boxes and chairs arranged in a random pattern.

Not only was TN able to safely manoeuvre the course he did not bump into a single box or chair.

Professor Beatrice de Gelder, from the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands, who led the study, said: "This is absolutely the first study of this ability in humans.

Experts believe that blindsight trades on our subconscious ability to recognise things we cannot see.

They think that even though the eyes do not identify objects something in the brain can still respond to what they see on a subconscious level.

Source / Video

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This is amazing!

I have a blind friend who, when arriving at a new location he's never been to, always amazes me by not bumping in to everything. He says he 'hears' the furniture and other obstacles. (Though he doesn't mean with his ears like normal.)

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That article makes it sound like blindsight is not related to real sight. That is false. Blindsight is understood to consist of the functions of vision we are not consciously aware of. A stroke or other brain damage can destroy those areas of your brain that allow you to perceive anything visually - but the input is still reaching the brain via the optic nerves and causes activity. Intuitive reactions to what is in the visual field can then happen without the person being really aware of them - like how you don't really think about following a curving sidewalk, you just do.

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