Ear-witness precision: Congenitally blind people have more accurate memories, research finds

April 29, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers from the University of Bath have found that people who are congenitally blind have more accurate memories than those who are sighted.

and illusions within are well documented in scientific and forensic work and appear to be a basic feature of memory functioning.

Yet several studies suggest that blind individuals, especially those without any visual experience, possess superior verbal and .

The researchers from the University's Department of Psychology ran memory tests on groups of congenitally blind people, those with late onset blindness and sighted people, in collaboration with a research assistant at Queen Mary University of London.

Each participant was asked to listen to a series of word lists and then recall the words they heard. Past research has found that such words lists normally cause people to falsely "remember" words that are related to those heard, but that were never actually experienced. For example hearing 'chimney', 'cigar', and 'fire' can prompt some to produce a false memory of the word 'smoke' when asked to remember the list of words.

The researchers found that not only did the congenitally blind participants remember more words but were also less likely to create of the related words. In contrast, the sighted and late blind participants remembered fewer words and were much more likely to falsely remember the related words that were not read to the participants.

Dr Achille Pasqualotto, postdoctoral researcher and first author of the study, said: "We found that congenitally blind participants reported significantly more correct words than both late onset blind and sighted people. Most of the congenitally blind participants avoided unrelated words, therefore congenitally blind participants can store more items and with a higher fidelity."

Dr Michael Proulx who led the study added: "Our results show that has a significant negative impact on both the number of items remembered and the accuracy of semantic memory and also demonstrate the importance of adaptive neural plasticity in the congenitally blind brain for enhanced memory retrieval mechanisms.

"There is an old Hebrew proverb that believes the blind were the most trustworthy sources for quotations and that certainly seems true in this case. It will be interesting to see whether congenitally would also be better witnesses in forensic studies."

The researched is from the paper "Congenital blindness improves semantic and episodic ," published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

Explore further: Study of congenital, acquired blindness reveals new understanding of brain's early spatial development

More information: www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … ii/S016643281300079X

Related Stories

Study of congenital, acquired blindness reveals new understanding of brain's early spatial development

January 11, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Bath have uncovered a new understanding of how the brain develops its sense of space by working with blind people.

How blind can 'read' shown in new research

May 16, 2012
A method developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for training blind persons to "see" through the use of a sensory substitution device (SSD) has enabled those using the system to actually "read" an eye chart with letter ...

Study shows vision is necessary for spatial awareness tasks

March 21, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- People who lose their sight at a later stage in life have a greater spatial awareness than if they were born blind, according to scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.

A sonar vision system for the congenitally blind

November 29, 2012
A "sonar vision" system that enables people who are blind from birth to perceive the shape of a face, a house or even words and letters, is being developed by a team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Using this device, ...

Recommended for you

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Neuroticism may postpone death for some

July 24, 2017
Data from a longitudinal study of over 500,000 people in the United Kingdom indicate that having higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism may reduce the risk of death for individuals who report being in fair or ...

Psychologists say our 'attachment style' applies to social networks like Facebook

July 24, 2017
A new investigation appearing this week in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a strong association between a person's attachment style—how avoidant or anxious people are in their close relationships—and ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rsklyar
1 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2013
How British swindlers are stealing in their cheating journal Nature Materials at https://connect.i...sr/blogs (Impertinent cheating ... & A robbery ...)

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.