Beyond Binary Wikia


In the 1960s, Paul Bach-y-Rita invented a device that allowed blind people to read, perceive shadows, and distinguish between close and distant objects. This "machine was one of the first and boldest applications of neuroplasticity."[10] The patient sat in an electrically stimulated chair that had a large camera behind it which scanned the area, sending electrical signals of the image to four hundred vibrating stimulators on the chair against the patient’s skin. The six subjects of the experiment were eventually able to recognize a picture of the supermodel Twiggy.[10]

It must be emphasized that these people were congenitally blind and had previously not been able to see. Bach-y-Rita believed in sensory substitution; if one sense is damaged, your other senses can sometimes take over. He thought the skin and its touch receptors could act as a retina (using one sense for another[83]). In order for the brain to interpret tactile information and convert it into visual information, it has to learn something new and adapt to the new signals. The brain's capacity to adapt implied that it possessed plasticity. He thought, "We see with our brains, not with our eyes."[10]

Song bird nuclei: (Autism may be linked to hyper-plasticity)