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    Blindsight: In Every Day Life, Your Brain Sees What Your Eyes Do Not
    By News Staff | July 1st 2012 02:30 PM | 5 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Even if you are not aware of everything you take in, your eyes are sending visual information to your brain.  This unconscious seeing is evidenced in a phenomenon called "blindsight", where people have no awareness, but their brains can see - even in subjects with visual impairment, caused by damage to a part of the brain called the visual cortex. 

    It has long been known that some patients with damage in the visual cortex, who cannot see, can still walk and avoid obstacles but that  was nor proof they were using blindsight. A new study demonstrated that blindsight in monkeys is present - and in ordinary environments, not a controlled laboratory. 

    The researchers previously showed blindsight in monkeys with damage in the visual area of the brain. They were able to turn their eyes to 'unseen' visual stimuli. But that was under specific laboratory conditions. For the new work they recorded eye movements of monkeys freely watching video clips of everyday life scenes. They found that the monkeys were able to turn their eyes to the prominent portions of videos in term of motion, brightness or color. By looking at the eye movements of the monkeys with visual disability, they could determine what they pay attention to, although they do not see. Blindsight.

    Assistant Professor Masatoshi Yoshida, from The National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan said, "This new finding indicates that blindsight can be used in everyday life of patients with hemianopia by cerebrovascular disorder. Then, there is the possibility that patients with visual impairment can recover their hidden visual function by rehabilitation." He also said "measurement of eye movements during viewing movie clips can be an efficient method to examine how well the patients can see unconsciously."

    Published in Current Biology.

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    The researchers previously showed blindsight in monkeys with damage in the visual area of the brain. They were able to turn their eyes to 'unseen' visual stimuli. But that was under specific laboratory conditions. For the new work they recorded eye movements of monkeys freely watching video clips of everyday life scenes. They found that the monkeys were able to turn their eyes to the prominent portions of videos in term of motion, brightness or color. By looking at the eye movements of the monkeys with visual disability, they could determine what they pay attention to, although they do not see. Blindsight. 
    Is it really ethically OK to deliberately blind these monkeys by damaging their visual cortex just to see if they have blindsight? This article claims that :-  
    It has long been known that some patients with damage in the visual cortex, who cannot see, can still walk and avoid obstacles but that was nor proof they were using blindsight. 
    Well what would be proof then? Blinded monkeys watching video clips? Surely blinded psychologists watching video clips or avoiding obstacles that they can't see, is the only evidence of 'blindsight' that these psychologists will ever really believe?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Thor Russell
    You'd think this would be better research to do with apeshttp://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/apes-with-apps 


    Thor Russell
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Thank you so much Thor for such a beautiful link, I'm immediately adding that bonobo photo to my personal gallery here at Science20 and yes that is a much better way to research with primates, I wonder if they ever spell out any insults or rude comments to the scientists testing them?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Surely monkeys can hear.

    Gerhard Adam
    "This new finding indicates that blindsight can be used in everyday life of patients with hemianopia by cerebrovascular disorder. Then, there is the possibility that patients with visual impairment can recover their hidden visual function by rehabilitation."
    Hmmm ... I have a question?  What "function" is being recovered, if the patient is already capable of processing the visual data?  After all, isn't the issue here that patients really don't have "visual impairment"?  Is the only point to try and regain conscious awareness of seeing? 

    BTW, the title is misleading, since the eyes never have been capable of sight.
    Mundus vult decipi