Extra-Sensory Perceptions

If you can’t believe your eyes and ears – ask your fingers!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

As toddlers, we learn about our world through seeing, hearing, and touching. And we learn fast! Hot stove? OUCH! But can our sense of touch step up to help if we can’t see or hear?

Costanza Papagnol and colleagues from the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy wondered!

Volunteers who were either blind, deaf, deafblind or non-disabled were tested on their sense of touch. While blind-folded, they felt rough and smooth square patterns on checkerboards. Next, they attempted to remake the patterns themselves.

How’d they do? Deaf and blind participants reproduced MORE of the patterns correctly than the non-disabled!

The researchers believe that the brain areas that usually rely on eyes and ears need a…hand. So instead, they get their intel from those that interpret through touch!

Deafblind individuals did slightly worse than the non-disabled. This suggests that, to get the entire picture, the brain may need input from at least two senses.

Good to know that, in a pinch, we can let our fingers do the walking…and talking!