Reading pervades every aspect of our daily lives, so much so that one would be hardpressed to find a room in a modern house without words written somewhere inside. Many of us now read more sentences in a day than we listen to. Not only are we highly competent readers, but our brains even appear to have regions devoted to recognizing words. A Martian just beginning to study us humans might be excused for concluding that we had evolved to read.
But, of course, we haven’t. Reading and writing is a recent human invention, going back only several thousand years, and much more recently for many parts of the world. We are reading using the eyes and brains of our illiterate ancestors. Why are we so good at such an unnatural act?
Male anglerfish are born with an innate desire to not exist. As soon as a male reaches maturity, he acquires an urge to find a female, sink his teeth into her, and grow into her. This evolved because anglerfish live in the dark ocean abyss with few mating opportunities.
By giving up his life to be part of the female, the male can reproduce more often. It’s not clear he can appreciate all the sex he’s getting, however, because much of his body and brain atrophies and fuses with her body. Nevertheless, that’s where male anglerfish want to be – that’s a full male anglerfish life.
And you thought you had problems. At least you’re not partially absorbed in someone else’s abdomen. Let’s toast our fortune: We are not male anglerfish!
Or are we?
As the story was told to me, the realization that my eyes were “different” wasn’t discovered until I’d been home from the hospital for a couple weeks. You know how it is - newborns sleep a lot, and eye contact is a bit limited when you’ve got a little one that is only awake a small portion of the day. Then of course the majority of those waking hours are usually spent with the eyes scrunched up in a squawk. But after settling down a bit, the day came when my mother and I finally got a good look at one another. And as I understand it, the first time I looked my mom straight in the eye - she had a bit of a panic attack. Because when she looked down at her youngest baby daughter, I looked back with eyes that didn’t look like hers - but looked more like our pet cat’s.
Fish and some amphibians possess a unique sensory capability that allows them to 'feel' objects around them without physical contact and see in the dark.
Colloquially this is called a 'sixth sense' but scientifically it is called a lateral-line system.
A team in the physics department of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen say they are able to explore the fundamental basis for this sensory system. The goal of that would not be to solve M. Night Shyamalan movies faster but rather, through biomimetic engineering, better equip robots to orient themselves in their environments.
Even in adults born with extremely impaired sight, the brain can rewire itself to recognize sections of the retina that have been restored by gene therapy. This surprising adaptability comes a year after three blind volunteers received doses of corrective genes to selected areas of their retinas at Shands at the University of Florida medical center.
More than a year later, tiny portions of the patients' retinas that have received gene therapy have kept their restored function, as much as 1,000-fold increases for day vision and 63,000-fold for night vision.
A new class of antibody drugs may help in treatment of childhood eye diseases but specialists need to be alert for the possibility of serious side effects, according to an editorial in the August Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS).
In the editorial, Dr. Robert L. Avery discusses issues related to the use of antibodies against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in pediatric ophthalmology.
Your mother, despite lacking an expensive lab studying phytochemicals
or a PhD (well, for most of us anyway) told you that carrots would help you see better.
And she was right, but purple carrots here and there may be even better for you because they have anthocyanins
But carrots are not the only way to go, it turns out. New research suggests that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent one of the leading causes of legal blindness among the elderly.
Often the topic of controversy, stem cells research has once again proved itself necessary. University of Florida researchers were able to program bone marrow stem cells to repair damaged retinas in mice.
The success in repairing a damaged layer of retinal cells in mice implies that blood stem cells taken from bone marrow can be programmed to restore a variety of cells and tissues, including ones involved in cardiovascular disorders such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
Nearly all species have some ability to detect light and at least three types of cells in the retina allow us to see images or distinguish between night and day. Now, researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine say they have discovered another type of cell that can sense light and contribute to vision.
Reporting in Nature, the team of neuroscientists say that retinal horizontal cells, which are nerve cells once thought only to talk to neighboring nerve cells and not even to the brain, are light sensitive themselves.
A study by the University of Barcelona (UB) has analysed which facial features our brain examines to identify faces. Our brain adapts in order to obtain the maximum amount of information possible from each face and according to the study the key data for identification come from, in the first place, the eyes and then the shape of the mouth and nose.