Health "It's a real paradox": scientists study a man who...

“It’s a real paradox”: scientists study a man who cannot see the figures

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Sci-tech

21:34 23.06.2020(updated 22:37 23.06.2020) Short url

American scientists have studied the brain of a man who cannot see the numbers between two and nine. It turns out that his brain is able to recognize the number, but sees a set of lines, reports the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Neurophysiologists at Johns Hopkins University have studied the brain of a man who cannot see the numbers between two and nine to better understand the link between consciousness and perception, says a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The 60-year-old engineer, named RFS in the study, had a severe headache in 2010, followed by amnesia, aphasia and short-term vision loss. In 2011, he had hand tremors, muscle spasms, and difficulty walking. Over time, these symptoms progressed and doctors diagnosed him with corticobasal syndrome.
During the progression of this disease, the patient stopped distinguishing the numbers and described them as intertwined black lines.

In fact, these lines looked different each time, so humans couldn’t use their distorted shape to learn to recognize them. He sees letters, printed characters, simple shapes, images and numbers 0 and 1.

Working with letters, the patient read words and recognized images. But in the case of the numbers, it only succeeded in half of the cases.

“It’s a real paradox”

“When he looks at a figure, his brain understands that there is a figure in front of him before the patient realizes that he does not see it, it is a real paradox”, wonder the scientists.

The researchers observed RFS for eight years, and they even developed a new number scheme for it to use. However, what is really going on with his brain could only be understood through an electroencephalogram.

Scientists have been monitoring how the human brain works while trying to recognize the words and images in the numbers. It turns out that the patient really didn’t know there were words in the numbers. However, not only was his brain discovering them, he was determining which word was there.

In neurology, it is generally considered that the activity observed by scientists on the electroencephalogram shows a visual perception. But although the man did not “see” the words and the images, his brain was able to recognize them. This shows that perception and consciousness are not as inseparable as was admitted.

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