What Do The Blind See?

By Anupum Pant

If you are here to judge me because you think you clicked on a completely nonsensical headline, well that is what headlines are for – To get you to open the link and read.
However, I have to tell you that this headline isn’t complete nonsense. There is more to the word blind than just the word alone. The word Blind in itself doesn’t completely define the exact state of a person’s visual ability. So the blind can see, or not, depending on the kind of blindness they are affected with.

Functionally Blind or Legally Blind

First, there is this thing called functional blindness. The functionally blind can see a bit, but not enough to do everyday tasks without hindrance.

Then there is legal blindness which classifies people having visual acuity below some point as blind. Even people with poor peripheral vision are labeled as Legally blind.

Some people might even have something called partial vision loss due to eye related ailments like glaucoma or cataract. The vision in such cases could be blurred or narrow.
In short, despite being classified as “blind”, people with functional, partial or legal blindness can see at least something. They can perceive light. But not all kind of blind people can perceive light.

Total Blindness

People who are totally blind cannot see. They see nothing. It is called NLP (No Light of Perception). For the people who can see naturally without making any conscious effort, the concept of being able to see nothing can be a very profound concept to grasp. Explaining the meaning of nothingness to a not-blind person is exactly the same as explaining the concept of color to a totally blind person. Experience of one sense can in no way be explained by referring to some other sense. It is a subjective experience.

Some totally blind people are able to map out a 3D image of the world through their eyes. They literally see through their ears. And this can be learnt. – Read more.

There are also some cases where even totally blind can perceive light to some extent. – Source

Is Black = Nothing?

Contrary to what most of us assume, the color black is NOT nothing. You’d assume that a person who is totally blind would see black, like you do when you close both your eyes. But seeing black is not seeing nothing.

Suppose, if you’d ask a totally blind person to describe the color black because you’d assume he always sees it, he’ll not be able to describe it. To experience nothingness to some extent, you can do this:

Close your left eye. Now you are seeing through your right eye. Focus of things with your right eye. But, what you are seeing with your left eye is nothing. It is not black. You see nothing.

Meet Tommy

Probably the most popular person here on the internet who can talk to you about total Blindness is, Tommy, who runs a splendid YouTube channel.

Tommy has been blind all his life. He makes great videos. If you haven’t subscribed to his channel, you must do it right now. The channel, on the whole, will give you quite an insight into the concept of No Light of Perception from a first person account of a Totally blind person. Here is one video of his which I loved. He talks about what colors mean for completely blind people.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Cute Aggression – Hugging The Life Out of Your Puppy

By Anupum Pant

Don’t you feel like pinching the cheeks of a chubby little baby or hugging the life out of your puppy? Even if a kid might find it unpleasant you pinching its cheeks really hard, or even if you’d not want to hurt a little kid, you’d still be bubbling to do it. What is it that forces you to vent out a physical reaction towards cuteness?

Most of us do and science proves that intense cuteness can often manifest itself as aggression. Rebecca Dyer, a graduate student in psychology at Yale University, has coined the phrase cute aggression for this feeling. Scientists are not yet sure on what causes this. According to them:

“It might be that how we deal with high positive-emotion is to sort of give it a negative pitch somehow”

Or probably you, in some way, want to take care of something by ensconcing it in your arms. And when you see and are not able to do it, you vent it out on bubble wrap?

Researchers carried out a study involving bubble wraps. It was found that people who were shown slides/videos of cute animals popped higher number of bubbles than the people who were shown something not so cute, funny or neutral videos.

A YouTube channel, SoulPancake, actually recreated the experiment in their studio and recorded positive results. It was found that cuteness evokes a physical reaction in most people.

McGurk Effect – What You See is What You Hear

By Anupum Pant

Do Not Cheat

  1. Close your eyes: Before you watch this video, you should know that, when you watch it for the first time, you have to watch it with closed eyes. Well, you can’t ‘watch’ with closed eyes. It simply means, you have to just hear the sound track first. I’m sure you can do it because closing eyes for 5 seconds is not asking for much. I don’t have any veiled interests here. It is for you. You won’t appreciate the effect if you keep your eyes open during the first go.
  2. Open your eyes: Watch it again with your eyes open. Be calm. It happens to everyone.

So that was the McGurk effect. It is a perfect example to show that accurate perception of reality may involve more than one sense. This is called “Multimodal perception”. In simple words, our senses do not learn from the surroundings independent from each other, they work together and learn together to help us perceive information.

The video

The video shows a man moving his lips as if saying “Ga” or “Da”, although it is just a visual of him saying that, let us call this the visual for the first sound (“Da” sound). The second sound is the “Ba” sound that is actually playing – this is the second sound.

When your eyes are closed, you hear the correct sound, the second sound – the “Ba” sound.
When you watch it again with your eyes open, you hear the “Da” sound. The brain combines the visual and audio signals to make you believe that the sound you are hearing is actually “Da”. Even if you are aware of this illusion, your brain doesn’t correct it for you, no matter how many times you repeat this.

Some interesting things about McGurk effect

  • You can focus anywhere on the face (not just the mouth) to perceive the same effect.
  • Women show a stronger McGurk effect than men.
  • Normally, people with mental disorders do not hear much difference in the sound with eyes open or closed.
  • By the age of 4 months, infants are able to identify facial movements and relate them to sounds. So, even infants show this effect to a certain extent.
  • Information rich perceptions are easier to remember. So, the next time you are trying to learn something, involve more senses. Probably involving a particular smell that goes with a piece of information will help you remember things well. Or a sound, maybe.

Note: Since my posts were getting longer everyday, I’ve tried to keep this one short. I don’t want the posts to be overwhelming for people who are not used to long reading. This blog is meant to make science sound interesting to everybody, not to scare them away from it. I’ll be waiting to receive your feedback on this. You can get in touch through twitter (@indigoanalysis)