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The Secret of Blindsight

  • Published13 Jun 2014
  • Reviewed13 Jun 2014
  • Author Michael W. Richardson
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

Many people who are blind live their lives with a total lack of vision. But, in some rare cases, people who have no conscious visual awareness are able to respond to moving objects (like a thrown ball) even though they cannot consciously see the object. This remarkable ability is called blindsight. 

The cause of blindsight is a mystery. To begin to understand how visual information about movement is transmitted from the eye to the brain, scientists are studying the input from a subset of bipolar cells (labelled in purple) to ganglion cells (labelled in green) that relay information about movement from the retina to the brain. Learning how these cells are able to transmit visual information about movement while other visual information is lost may provide clues to understanding blindness.

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