Deaf people benefit from far better vision then those with five fully-functioning senses, experts have found.
For years, it has been suggested that people who have an impaired sense benefit from improvements in others, but until now this has not been explained.
However, specialists at the University of Western Ontario have discovered there is a causal link between enhanced visual abilities and reorganisation of the part of the brain that usually handles auditory input in congenitally deaf cats.
According to the study, led by Stephen Lomber of the Centre for Brain and Mind, the part of the auditory cortex that would normally pick up peripheral sound enhances peripheral vision, leading the researchers to conclude the function stays the same but switches from auditory to visual.
"The brain is very efficient, and doesn"t let unused space go to waste. The brain wants to compensate for the lost sense with enhancements that are beneficial," he added.
It comes after researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center in the US claimed that blind people use specialised modules in the visual cortex that process the spatial location of an object when a person localises it.
by Alexa Kaczka