Have you ever wondered what blind people experience in their dreams? You’re not alone – the question of what blind people dream has intrigued researchers for years. More specifically, the question is about the dreams of those who have been blind since birth. These are people who haven’t collected visual images to fuel their dreams.
According to The Conversation (cited below):
“Humans born without sight are not able to collect visual experiences, so they understand the world entirely through their other senses. As a result, people with blindness at birth develop an amazing ability to understand the world through the collection of experiences and memories that come from these non-visual senses.”
Insights into how blind people dream
People who are born blind do dream, despite having never seen visual images. But their dreams seem to be different from those of sighted individuals. For example, instead of visual images, blind people may experience dreams that involve more vivid sensory experiences, such as sounds, smells, and touch.
The article in The Conversation by neuroscientist John J. Foxe and psychologist Andrei Gorea notes, “the visual areas of the brain are not dormant during dream sleep in congenitally blind people, but instead get co-opted for processing other senses.” This means that while blind people may not see images in their dreams, their brains are still processing sensory information. And they do this in much the same way that sighted people process visual information.
One study conducted by the University of Copenhagen found that blind individuals may have more intense and emotional dreams than sighted individuals. That’s because their brains may compensate for a lack of visual stimuli by enhancing other sensory experiences. As Foxe and Gorea explain, “this is thought to be due to the fact that the brain has to work harder to create a sensory-rich environment in the absence of visual input.”
The study also found that people who were born blind may dream more about other people and interpersonal interaction. That makes sense since blind people may rely more heavily on senses like hearing and touch to interact with others. Foxe and Gorea note that “this may result in a greater emphasis on interpersonal relationships in dream content.
Interestingly, some blind individuals really do seem to dream in visual images. This phenomenon is called “sighted dreaming.” It has been reported by some blind individuals, and researchers hypothesize that it may be related to the brain’s innate ability to construct mental images based on experiences.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about the dream experiences of those who have been blind since birth. But research has given us fascinating insights into how the brain processes sensory information and uses it during dream sleep. Foxe and Gorea note: “…this research has implications…for our understanding of how the brain adapts to sensory deprivation more generally.”
Overall, the dream experiences of blind individuals continue to intrigue us. As our understanding of the brain and its functions continues to evolve, we may discover even more fascinating facts about the dream experiences of blind individuals and how they differ from those of sighted individuals.