Dyk #8: What brain areas does a blind person use to read?
Did you know…
That when a blind person is reading Braille, their brains show activity in exactly the same areas as when a non-blind person is reading regular text?
The researchers concluded that the VWFA doesn’t even need visual information to process words. According to the researchers, this provides the strongest support so far for the “metamodal theory of brain function” (which suggests that brain regions are defined by the task they perform).
They suggest that the VWFA is not named correctly and that it should be named “Tactile Word Form Area” or more generally as the “Metamodal Word Form Area”.
The next study these researchers are going to perform is to see how someone’s brain who reads Braille for the first time reacts and how and how quickly the brain adjusts. They wonder if it may be something instantaneous, or if it’s something that changes gradually.
Reich, L., Szwed, M., Cohen, L. & Amedi, A. (2011). A Ventral Visual Stream Reading Center Independent of Visual Experience. Current Biology, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.040.
It’s interesting to see how researchers are still finding out that they were initially totally wrong about a brain area’s functioning, don’t you think?