ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
CANCER
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Organ Donation Policies Vary Among Children's Hospitals
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
Marinades Help Keep Grilled Meat Safe
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Should the FDA Regulate Tobacco?
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Drink Away Dementia?
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
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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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