Gaming to improve eyesight and 'hearing' colors

February 17, 2012

How we perceive the world tells us a lot about how the brain processes sensory information.

At this week's meeting of the (AAAS) in Vancouver, McMaster University psychologist Daphne Maurer will report on how vision develops in individuals born with in both eyes. Although such persons have their vision "corrected" by surgery and , Maurer's study shows that they experience specific visual processing deficiencies into .

But the studies reveal good news as well. Some of these effects can be reversed if the individual follows a short program of video gaming.

"After playing an action for just 40 hours over four weeks, the patients were better at seeing small print, the direction of moving dots, and the identity of faces. Those improvements tell us that the is still plastic enough to be trained to overcome sensory deficiencies," says Maurer.

Maurer is also internationally known for her work on synaesthetes—individuals whose brains mix and link different senses. For example, in one form, adults literally hear a colour. Every time a particular note is played on the piano, they perceive a specific colour. The phenomenon is more common than expected, and runs in families. In Maurer's lab, these individuals are opening up new perspectives in understanding the development of perception and language.

"Our work suggests that babies and toddlers start out with a bit of synaesthesia that usually goes underground as we develop."

Maurer will take part in the AAAS session The Effects of Early Experience on Lifelong Functioning: Commitment and Resilience that will take place on Friday, February 17. The symposium is organized by University of British Columbia psychologist Janet Werker, who will present on the effects of early experience in acquiring language.

Explore further: Synaesthesia linked to a hyper-excitable brain

Related Stories

Synaesthesia linked to a hyper-excitable brain

November 18, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- ‘Hyper-excitability’ in regions of the brain may underlie synaesthesia, an unusual condition where some people experience a ‘blending of the senses’, Oxford University researchers suggest.

Recommended for you

Rat brain atlas provides MR images for stereotaxic surgery

October 21, 2016

Boris Odintsov, senior research scientist at the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and Thomas Brozoski, research professor ...

ALS study reveals role of RNA-binding proteins

October 20, 2016

Although only 10 percent of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases are hereditary, a significant number of them are caused by mutations that affect proteins that bind RNA, a type of genetic material. University of California ...

Imaging technique maps serotonin activity in living brains

October 20, 2016

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that's partly responsible for feelings of happiness and for mood regulation in humans. This makes it a common target for antidepressants, which block serotonin from being reabsorbed by neurons ...

Overcoming egocentricity increases self-control

October 19, 2016

Neurobiological models of self-control usually focus on brain mechanisms involved in impulse control and emotion regulation. Recent research at the University of Zurich shows that the mechanism for overcoming egocentricity ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.