ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
CANCER
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Compound in Red Wine Fights Ravages of Age
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
FITNESS
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Less Education May Mean Poorer Health
A Honey of a Sinusitis Treatment
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
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'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Call it a case of second sight: Scientists report that a blind man in Switzerland was able to make his way through a maze, even though he has no conscious sensation of seeing the world around him.

This phenomenon is an indication that the human brain has ways of processing vision beyond those that are currently understood, the scientists said.

Visual skills include mechanisms "for orienting and doing in the world rather than for understanding," study lead author Beatrice de Gelder, a researcher at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and Harvard Medical School, said in a news release.

Scientists were already aware of a phenomenon called "blindsight," in which the sightless show the ability to sense things around them. In the case of the man profiled in the new study, for example, he can sense facial expressions, and his brain shows signs of reacting to the emotions shown on the faces of others.

But the study authors said the man also has a skill not seen before in the blind -- the ability to navigate a maze, in this case a series of boxes and chairs placed in his way.

The man, whose age and name were not disclosed, suffered two strokes that damaged the visual centers of his brain. He can't see, and brain scans show no signs of activity in the visual centers, the study authors said.

The researchers wrote that the man walks like a blind man and only gets around with the assistance of another person or a cane.

Still, as the study authors reported in the Dec. 23 issue of the journal Current Biology, the man was able to navigate the maze without any problem and didn't require the help of an assistant who stood by in case he stumbled.

The researchers said it's possible, though unlikely, that the man used sound waves to detect the location of the obstacles.

Colin Ellard, associate chair of the department of psychology at the University of Waterloo in Canada, said the study findings reflect previous research that suggests the comprehension of vision isn't limited to one part of the brain.

The study "is useful in the sense that it adds to a larger story about how vision is organized in the brain," Ellard said. "The take-home message would be that our ability to 'see' consists of a constellation of different types of abilities. Some can help us to understand, think and talk about what is in the external world, but others act to help us organize movements such as reaching or walking to targets. This study highlights the fact that these different abilities depend on different parts of our brain."

More information

Learn more about blindsight from Bryn Mawr University.



SOURCES: Colin Ellard, Ph.D., associate chair, department of psychology, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; Dec. 23, 2008, Current Biology

Last Updated: Dec. 22, 2008

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