THURSDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The area of the brain
responsible for visual reading doesn't actually require vision, a
finding that suggests the brain is a "task machine" instead of a
"sensory machine," according to researchers.
Using functional MRI brain scans, the researchers measured
neural activity in eight blind people while they read Braille. The
participants, who had been blind since birth, showed activity in
the exact same part of the brain (visual word form area -- VWFA)
that's activated when sighted people read.
The study appears online Feb. 17 in the journal
The findings challenge the conventional theory that the brain is
divided into regions that are specialized for processing
information arriving via one sense or another, said the study
"The brain is not a sensory machine, although it often looks like one; it is a task machine," Amir Amedi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said in a journal news release. "A brain area can fulfill a unique function, in this case reading, regardless of what form the sensory input takes."
He noted that reading is a recent invention (about 5,400 years
old) and Braille has been in use for less than 200 years.
"That's not enough time for evolution to have shaped a brain module dedicated to reading," Amedi said.
The American Foundation for the Blind has more about