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Deaf Vision

June 28, 2011

The retinas of people who have been deaf from birth enhance their peripheral vision.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

The adaptable retina…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The peripheral vision of deaf people is more developed than that of hearing people. This according to University of Sheffield neuroscientist Charlotte Codina. She and her colleagues imaged the retinas of people who had been deaf from birth. They found that neurons for transmitting visual information are allocated differently,

enhancing peripheral vision. This helps helps deaf people in daily life, from spotting a bus to communicating in sign language.

CHARLOTTE CODINA (University of Sheffield):

Sign language actually uses peripheral vision, the hands are moving very rapidly with small movements and those movements are being taken in using peripheral vision.

HIRSHON:

She says scientists used to believe that the retina functions like a passive camera for transmitting visual signals, but the new study suggests otherwise.

CODINA:

The retina is more adaptable than we thought previously.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.