Math and Vision

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#1 11 October, 2016 - 17:35
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Math and Vision

Why Blind People Are Better at Math

"People who have lost vision from a very early age have developed some compensatory mechanism," says Castronovo, who is now studying mathematical cognition at the University of Hull, in England. That compensatory mechanism seems to do a better job at aiding them in certain kinds of math than vision does—an astonishing finding, she says.

Scientists are still puzzling out what that compensatory mechanism is and how it works. Earlier this year, Olivier Collignon, a psychologist who studies blind cognition at the Université Catholique de Louvain and the University of Trento, in Italy, and his colleagues, published findings that suggest sighted individuals and people who were born blind or became blind early in life perform equally well on simple math problems. There was one key difference—the blind participants actually outperformed their sighted counterparts on more difficult math problems, like addition and subtraction that require carrying over a number (like 45 + 8 or 85 –9); these are considered more difficult than those that don’t (like 12 + 31 or 45 + 14). According to Collignon, the more a task relies on the ability to manipulate numbers in the abstract, like carrying over a number, the more blind individuals’ compensatory mechanisms are engaged.

Why blind people are better at math

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