|Blind man riding a bike|
How are you all this week? I pray you are faring better than me. I’ve been fighting a lung infection for about a week and it has turned into bronchitis and now I also have strep throat! Praise God for antibiotics! I don’t know what I would do without them. So many people around the world still don’t have this basic medical need and it breaks my heart. I give to charities whenever I can and must console myself that I alone cannot save the world though I would like to.
Speaking of not knowing what to do…I ran across this fascinating topic while reading a book: Echolocation in humans. What?, you may say. Most of us are familiar with animals using echolocation such as bats, dolphins and whales, but humans?
Yes! Isn’t this stunning?! Daniel Kish, who has been blind virtually since birth (he had both eyes removed by 13 months due to an aggressive form of eye cancer), learned to “see” his environment from as long as he can remember by using echolocation. (In the pictures of him the “eyes” you see are non vision artificial globes.)
Daniel states that echolocation works very similar to sight in a lot of ways. Both visual and echolocation use energy, for visual the energy used is light and for echolocation the energy utilized is acoustic. So when using acoustic energy, Daniel and others use a tongue click. The sound waves then bounce off of everything in the environment including all surfaces, both horizontal and vertical and everything in between. This energy then comes back to the listener, and allows Daniel to perceive the objects by distinguishing the differences in thequality of sound. All this happens in a few seconds or less and has been dubbed, “FlashSonar”.
By submitting to hearing tests, Daniel’s abilities where further scrutinized. It turns out that his ability to process temporal information about acoustic signals is astounding. Yes, you read right, temporal as in time. This means that he has specialized the development of his ability to process the timing of sounds. Which it turns out makes use of his visual cortex. In most people, this is the area of the brain that makes sense of the images inputed from the eyes. But with Daniel and others who use FlashSonar, he utilizes his visual cortex to make sense of the input from sounds. This is a relatively new understanding of the visual cortex because for years scientists thought that once someone went blind the visual cortex went black. But with FlashSonar users, they basically have rewired their brains to actually see a kind of visual signal with their ears. Even “seeing” in 3D.
Daniel is the president of World Access for the Blind, and its division, Visioneers. These organizations train the blind to develop FlashAonar. His goal is to help give freedom to those without sight. For more information see the references below.
How stunning is our God who has created our bodies in such a magnificent way that even the blind can see! If only people would learn to lift their spiritual blindness as well.
Until next time, God bless and take care,