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    Thread: Blind Dreams

    1. #1
      Bio-Turing Machine O'nus's Avatar
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      Oct 2003
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      Blind Dreams

      Blind Dreaming</span>

      I have been doing a little bit of research lately about blind people and dreams and I have turned up quite a bit on my own. So I will now share all the topics of interest in regards to the blind and dreaming.

      Note: If you do not believe in the psychological and neurological aspect on dreaming, or any of the empirical facts of dreaming - Click Here.

      What are blind dreams like?

      Originally posted by Helen Keller relating what dreaming was like before her teacher
      \"My dreams have strangely changed during the past twelve years. Before and after my teacher first came to me, they were devoid of sound, of thought or emotion of any kind, except fear, and only came in the form of sensations. I would often dream that I ran into a still, dark room, and that, while I stood there, I felt something fall heavily without any noise, causing the floor to shake up and down violently; and each time I woke up with a jump. As I learned more and more about the objects around me, this strange dream ceased to haunt me; but I was in a high state of excitement and received impressions very easily. It is not strange then that I dreamed at the time of a wolf, which seemed to rush towards me and put his cruel teeth deep into my body! I could not speak (the fact was, I could only spell with my fingers), and I tried to scream; but no sound escaped from my lips. It is very likely that I had heard the story of Red Riding Hood, and was deeply impressed by it. This dream, however, passed away in time, and I began to dream of objects outside myself.\" (1)
      In studies from the University of California (2) on several patients and their recordings of dreams led to four empirical generlizations:

      [list]1. There are no visual images in the dreams of those born without any ability to experience visual imagery in waking life.

      2. Individuals who become blind before the age of five seldom experience visual imagery in their dreams, although Deutsch (1928) reports some visual imagery in six schoolchildren who lost their sight before age five.

      3. Those who become sightless between the ages of five and seven may or may not retain some visual imagery.

      4. Most people who lost their vision after age seven continue to experience at least some visual imagery, although its frequency and clarity often fade with time. [list]

      What the blind then see\'s in there dreams is a conglomeration of auditory, gastatory, olfactory, and tactile sensations. One could not exactly portray how the blind interacts with their dreams except by saying, "Close your eyes and walk around the room. That is how the blind dream." The primary reason the majority of people cannot begin to comprehend how blind people can dream is because of the subject perception of dreaming - people who have had sight their whole life have visual dreams nearly 100% of the time, thus it is difficult to imagine dreaming without the visual representation.

      Can the blind dream in color?

      First, I must postulate why and how colors are brought into dreaming:

      Colors are typically utilised to amplify images within dreams. Every colors has a certain empathy associated with it and certain objects and scenarios in the world are always associated with a certain color (ie. The Red Cross). Thus, when we see certain depictions within our dreams, our memories will immediately impart the colors into the dream because we believe that they should be there. When the colors are empathetic, it is to portray a certain feeling (ie. Red = anger). Also, colors are implemented into dreams by our memories of the colors, they are not received or projected visually, they are simply memories. The best way to elucidate this is to ask this question, "When you remember things you did years ago, do you usually remember them in color?" The answer, typically, is no - unless the color played a significant role in the memory. This is the same case with dreams, as dreams are the manifestation of thoughts and memories (in the psychological aspect...).

      Moving on..

      If the individual had sight before the age of five, it is possible to have the rare experience of seeing a color or even a visual dream. Otherwise, if the blind individual was born blind - they will not even have visual dreams.

      In the research conducted by the University of California, the participants in the study were 15 congenitally and adventitiously blind men and women, ages 24 to 73, with 11 of them between the ages of 44 and 60 (M=46.2; SD=12.5). The ten women and five men in the study were chosen from a larger pool of 16 women and nine men gathered by Hurovitz (1997). They were selected because they contributed at least six recent dream reports that were not labeled as "earlier," "recurrent," or "childhood" dreams over the two-month period they recorded their dreams. In all, they provided 372 dream reports, 236 from the women, 136 from the men.

      Participants whom are congenital blind and totally blind claim that 0% of their dreams were visual, and that 52% of their dreams consisted of taste/ smell/touch (gastatory, olfactory, tactile). There is not even a question whether or not they see color because they do not see at all.

      What about the colorblind?

      Also, I should first postulate that the colorblind are this way because of alterations within their retina - their cone photoreceptors, which are responsible for receiving color from the visual hemispheres. For people whom have alterations within their photoreceptors from birth, it is likely that these individuals mix up certain colors for other colors, that we normally see, ie. seeing blue instead of red (please ignore all philosophical debates on whether or not one color is determinate and blah blah blah.. shut up).

      The colorblind are still able to dream in color just as much as any other individual, just their colors will be altered. Of course, if the individual was born without any cone photoreceptors, then they will not dream in color for they have never seen a color. The mind is not capable of spontaneously creating such environments within the dream world becuase dreams work entirely on cognition and recent memories. I have yet to find any experiments on the colorblind, but I will post immediately if I do.

      What about the visual cortex of the blind?

      In a study at the deparment of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Washington, subjects took part in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and were required to generate a verb to nouns. In one experiment, blind subjects read the nouns through Braille (Braille task); in a second study, blind and sighted subjects heard the nouns (auditory task). The principal finding from both studies was that blind people had activation foci in visual cortex that corresponded to visually responsive regions noted previously in sighted subjects (3).

      Two-dimensional, flattened views of z-score statistical parameter maps for visual cortex BOLD responses in early and late blind subjects.

      In blind subjects, both tasks evoked extensive bilateral excitation in the lateral visual occipital lobes and Brodmann areas of the brain. This ment that when the blind heard a word, it was not only received through the auditory complex but also precipitated excitatory activity throughout the visutopic areas. The results are significantly more active than those of subjects that had vision.

      What does this mean? I\'ll eluciate this very easily:
      Your mom screams at you from behind you and you look at her immediately. How you know that she is behind you is the activity of the brain which is drastically increased within the blind as they not only received auditory information, but assimilate a milieu within their mind of their environment. Try picturing what Daredevil see\'s... only, no vision at all, it is more or less "empathetic". Hopefully that explains it well..

      Bullshit, blind people can imagine what vision is like!

      Hm.. If you believe this please do the following for me:

      Dream about Heliotrophics. You probably can\'t because it is not real, it is just something I made up while writing this. How is this relevant? Isn\'t this a stupid point? No, this is what people who were born blind think about vision. Replace heliotrophics with vision.

      Can you please tell me what heaven looks like? (Ignoring the argument of it\'s existance..) Imagine all you like, you don\'t know what it actually is - same concept applies to blind people and imagining vision.

      Also take into consideration that the majority of you reading this thread have no clue how it is like for blind people to dream like - invert that thought, because that is the samething that blind people think of you. Can you dream what a blind person dreams? How can you, if you are not blind and never have been?

      Another point (from CT) is imagine what the color tryuipe is like. Don\'t know what I\'m talking about? Can\'t do it? Exactly.

      Furthermore, the meyer\'s loop (the information line responsible of relaying information received from the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) from the retina, to the occipital lobe) of the blind are nearly, and sometimes completely, inactive. If this loop is not utilised within the youth of the blind individuals life-time, the pathway becomes "lazy" and loses strength as the mind see\'s (no pun intended) that the loop is not necessary and truly gives no information to cortex. This is the reason why several blind people have a "lazy eye" or their eyes are simply not aligned whatsoever. My point in this is that blind individuals with an inactive visual pathway begin to utilise their visual cortex in association with other senses, primarily auditory. (See 3)


      1 - Dreams of the Blind, Richard C. Wilkerson, Website.
      2 - The Dreams of Blind Men and Women, University of California, Website
      3 - Visual Cortex Activity in Early and Late Blind People, Journal of Neuroscience, University of Washington, Website
      4 - Malach et al., 1995; Sereno et al., 1995; Tootell et al., 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998; DeYoe et al., 1996; Engel et al., 1997; Hadjikhani et al., 1998[list]


      I look forward to any feedback and expect that I have overlooked some aspects and facts so please feel free to point them out.

      Hope I have been enlightening.

      <span style="color:yellow">(Thought I would re-post this here.. If anyone thinks otherwise, please PM me about it.)

    2. #2
      explore Demerzel's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 2004
      Scotland, UK
      Right, now get that moved to Tutorials.
      [22:59] <Kaniaz> You basically did a massive shit on the rug of this IRC
      [22:59] <Kaniaz> And called it a message

    3. #3
      Member Sparky's Avatar
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      Aug 2004
      Hamden, CT
      That would be a good tutorial, even though its like, knowledge.



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