A new brain scan research initiative showed that numerical acumen was not linked with vision.
Mathematical skills may have a lot to do with how we look at the world. Whether it is the simple addition of a set of five and three apples or rechecking the numbers on a shopping bill, mankind relies on physical vision for math operations.
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However, we have never questioned this obvious assumption. A new study points out the fact that math skills may not necessarily be connected to vision alone. There may be more here than meets the eye (no pun intended).
The problem came up when the math skills of both ordinary and blind people were compared. There was not that great a difference between the two. The brain network responsible for the tasks needed to solve math problems was the same in either category.
The fact that one of them could not see thus disproves the visual bias hypothesis in math functioning. Blind people had been thought to struggle with math since they could not see and thus had to do everything using the power of their memories. Yet such is hardly the case. Math is not as simple as a visual-spatial thing.
“There is a perception that blind people specifically struggle with math, because it’s a very visual-spatial thing,” lead author Shipra Kanjlia, a graduate student in the university’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, told Digital Trends. “What this study shows is that the ability to do math is present in everyone, blind or not.”
Math ability is a feature that is present in every one of us. Both blind people and sighted people who wore blindfolds did math sums. Their brain scans were taken during the course of the study, published in PNAS.
The complex spoken equations they solved proved or disproved their math skills. In both participants, the part of the brain responsible for mathematical reasoning lit up in the brain scans.
This part of the brain is called the intraparietal sulcus. The response shown by this part of the brain was very significant in the experiment.
However, and here is the real paradox, the visual cortex showed a great deal of activity when blind people solved the equations in their heads. The more complex the equation, the greater the area lit up.
Yet, the part responsible for vision didn’t show any significant level of activity in sighted people. What this essentially shows is that diverse regions of the human brain can be re-purposed as befits the situation.
Thus if a person suffers from a stroke, while parts of his or her brain may shut down, other areas will pick up speed to compensate for the loss. The human brain is not only very agile, it shows a high degree of toughness and tenacity. It is maleable and ductile to the extreme.