Seeing With Your Tongue and Listening to Colour

By Anupum Pant

I’m always fascinated when I see one sense organ do the work of some other sense organ. Like breathing from your eyes ( not really) or seeing with your ears (really) listening to colours etc…

not available in your country

Solving The Technical Problem (Not available in your country): Today, I stumbled upon a video whose title was “Blind Learn To See With Tongue“. It was uploaded on YouTube by CBS – an American TV network. The sad part is that they had tweaked the videos settings which did not allow me to watch it. It wasn’t available in India.

Whenever someone says I can’t do something, I’m almost always prepared for it. This time, I had this extension installed on Chrome called ZenMate. It’s perfectly legal (available on chrome store) and works very smoothly. It allows you to surf the internet with total control. With it installed, you can totally forget about your physical location and fool the websites which place a location restriction for access, like Spotify and Youtube’s “not available in your location” videos. I haven’t tried other things but it should allow Indians to access stuff from websites like Hulu, Pandora and Netflix. (Even if it may seem out of place, I wasn’t paid by ZenMate to write this. I really recommend it.)

The Customary David Eagleman talk

Now, whenever I come across something that has to do with seeing things with an organ that is not really meant for seeing, I remember this very-old TED talk by David Eagleman. And I like to attach it to my blog because I can’t really explain this amazing ability of the Human brain as well as he does. He basically segues his talk to discuss how brain can learn to interpret various kinds of signals to produce an image. So, here it goes. Watch it and read on…

Since it is clear that seeing is the ability of the brain, not eyes, we can comfortably move on to see how you could even see with your tongue – Tasting the light.

Seeing with the Tongue

A device called BrainPort can help you do that. The contraption consists of a camera that sits on your forehead and sends information to a small computer. The information is processed, converted into electrical pulses, and then sent to an array of electrodes touching your tongue. The brain processes these signals and converts them into an image.

At first, of course the brain doesn’t know the trick to process visual signal from the tongue, but it learns. Gradually the device becomes a part of your body and you start seeing with your tongue! Just like Neil Harbisson can listen to colour. In fact, he can see more colours than our eyes can see because the technology allows him. He can see infrared and ultraviolet too!

Listening to Colour – TED talk

Hit like if you learnt something from this article.

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.

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