Results published in Nature Neuroscience to study brain activity in deaf cats shows how their vision is “enhanced” (better peripheral vision, detection of slow movement) due to the fact that part of their auditory cortex helps to process site, virtually extending the visual cortex in the brain. Given the similarity of a cat brain to a human brain, this connection may explain our understanding of how people limited to 3 or 4 senses have amplified sensation in their remaining senses. Most commonly, blind people have “superhearing” and vice-versa.
This study makes us think the brain is more plastic than previously thought. Even with an architecture, sensory dispatch isn’t exclusively paired to any specific geography of the brain.
We’re dripping with questions and ideas:
If it’s possible to shift signal processing to different parts of the brain then what are the possibilities of inducing this effect in the brain? With added chemistry/pharmaceuticals? With nanotech?
Imagine the app on your personal digital device that allows you to dial your sensory profile to particular settings, shifting brain chemistry or stimulating specific neural pathways to amplify your sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, or proprioception. Some presets would be:
Of course, sensory control is already possible for some.
“In perceiving a form with the eye, a sound with the ear, an odour with the nose, a taste with the tongue, an impression with the body, an object with the mind, he dwells neither on the whole nor its attributes. And he tries to ward off that which, by being unguarded in his senses, might give rise to evil and unwholesome states, to greed and sorrow; he watches over his senses, keeps his senses under control.”
Given the sensory chaos of human-made environments we live in, it only seems possible for very few, really. It takes lots of communication with ourselves (discipline, time, faith). But we should keep trying.