Human Echolocation Isn’t Just For the Blind


Image: Simon James/Flickr
Bats and marine mammals have acoustic navigation down, but humans are learning quickly too.

By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

Bats and dolphins are famous for their ability to orient themselves by bouncing sound waves off of objects in their environment, an adaptation called echolocation. But some visually impaired people have also learned to navigate the world this way. One notable example is Daniel Kish, who lost his eyes to cancer as an infant and has since become the world’s most visible advocate of human echolocation.

Kish, who has embraced his reputation as „a real-life Batman“ has trained hundreds of students to use clicks or other noises to develop a sonar-like acoustic sight.

Meanwhile, neuroscientists have amassed a fascinating body of work indicating that these sound-based snapshots are processed within the visual cortex. When one sensory organ closes, it seems, other pathways open to compensate.

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