Using only his intuition, a man blinded by stroke is able to navigate down a hallway, through a maze of obstacles, without a cane or human assistance. Known to the Harvard Medical School study group as "TN," he can walk around chairs and boxes without bumping into them, using hidden pathways in the brain for guidance.
TN was left blind after damage to the visual (striate) cortex in both hemispheres of the brain following consecutive strokes, according to the BBC. His eyes are normal but his brain cannot process the information they send in, rendering him totally blind.
However, he was previously known to have what is called "blindsight" ~ the ability to detect things in the environment without being aware of seeing them. For instance, he responds to the facial expressions of others. But he usually uses a stick to track obstacles and requires guidance by others when walking around buildings.
Unaware of Obstacles
Lead researcher Dr Beatrice de Gelder of Tilburg University, The Netherlands, and Harvard Medical School, said TN was "not aware of doing anything exceptional" and thought all he had done was walk straight ahead along a long corridor.
"You can experience a total loss of your cortical vision but still retain some capacity to move around inside and out without damage to yourself," she told the BBC. "It shows us the importance of these evolutionary ancient visual paths. They contribute more than we think they do for us to function in the real world."
Click here for the BBC article and video.