普特英语听力网2020-06-29 16:47:20

Through Darkness

The Dialogue in the Dark exhibition in Israel aims to bridge the understanding between sighted and blind people. BBC Future visits the museum to learn about the ways the brain can adapt to life without vision.

I know there isn’t one dot of light, but I frantically scan the pitch-black area surrounding me out of habit nonetheless.

exhibition展览|adapt to适应|vision视觉|frantically疯狂地|pitch-black漆黑的|nonetheless尽管

As I shuffle slowly through the carpeted hallway, clumsily swinging my long cane in a small arch the way the guide instructed a minute ago, I can hear the sounds of exotic birds, the rustle of wind through the trees and a babbling brook just around the corner. After stumbling through a doorway, the flat carpet suddenly gives way to a hill covered in rocks. The breeze hits my face and the cacophony of an artificial forest is everywhere.


“Okay kids! We’re in the nature now. What can you find?” says our guide, 45-year-old Meair Mattityahu, who lost his sight shortly after birth.

Now that I know there are obstacles, I’m worried that if I take another step I’m going to walk directly into a tree.

“I found a tree!” shouts an 11-year old girl visiting with her family from New York. I’m still lagging behind the group, standing a few feet from the entrance on the bumpy mound that imitates earth, trying to get my bearings.

This is just the first room of seven at the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition at the Children’s Museum in Holon, Israel, more commonly referred to as the “blind museum.”

obstacle障碍|lag behind落后于|bumpy颠簸的|mound土堆|


The World Health Organization estimates that 38 million people are blind around the world, with an additional 110 million having low vision and at great risk of becoming blind. Like the dark dining concept, where visitors eat in a restaurant that is in complete darkness, this exhibition, which started in Germany in 1988 and has franchises in several countries, is designed to bridge understanding between sighted and blind people, and give visitors a taste of what it feels like to be blind.

Some people become so disoriented and unfocused that they can’t tell left from right

World Health Organization世界卫生组织=WHO|bridge沟通|disoriented分不清方向的|unfocused不集中的

Mattityahu says that he’s witnessed all kinds of initial reactions to the exhibit. Some people panic, some start screaming as if others won’t be able to hear them in the dark, others laugh. At least one has fainted. “I’ll tell them to use their left hand to find the wall, and they can’t do it.”

By the end of our 90-minute tour, we will have ridden on a boat, wandered through a house, walked down a public street, shopped for fruit and vegetables at a grocery store and drank soda in a bar, all in complete darkness. Though it’s terrifying at first, it is also enlightening. About half-an-hour in, I find that my other senses are more focused, primarily hearing and touch, including the telling bumps beneath my cane, and it becomes increasingly easy and more natural to navigate through each room.

initial初始的|faint晕倒|grocery store杂货铺|enlightening有启发作用的|bump隆起物|navigate导航

The more a blind subject shows activity in their visual brain, the better they are at some auditory processes. 

Our brains are, after all, enormously adaptable to make the most of what they are given. For sighted people, the areas of the brain’s cortex devoted to visual processing have more neurons than those processing hearing and touch combined, allowing our eyes to quickly analyze our surroundings. In the absence of sight, however, our others senses may pick up the slack. Research on blindness and neuroplasticity have even shown that being blind can change the way the brain processes information, with studies demonstrating that early-blind individuals use their occipital cortex in auditory, verbal processing and/or tactile processing.

“A lot of work has shown that blind people recruit occipital areas to process non-visual stimuli, including hearing and touch,” says Patrice Voss, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.  


Voss’s research has shown that early-blind people outperform sighted people at locating sounds on a horizontal plane when limited to one ear, while other studies have shown blind people outperform sighted people on other nonvisual tasks like recognising voices and verbal memory.


Though people who lose their sight later in life still exhibit behavioral changes, Voss says that early or congenitally blind individuals typical benefit from more reorganization of visual areas than people who lose their sight in adulthood. 

“Our brain is less plastic as we age, so there’s less room for change. But early experience also drives the connections that our brain forms,” he says. “If you’re deprived of visual input early on you will likely become more accustomed to processing non-visual input within the visual areas.”






我们的导游Meair Mattityahu今年已经45岁,从一出生开始,就没能亲眼看看这个世界。他说:“嘿,孩子们!我们现在就深处大自然。你发现了什么呢?”






Mattityahu见证了游客们的各色反应-有人惊恐不已,有人甚至开始尖叫,还有人连带着耳朵都失灵了,也有一些人大笑。还有不少人在博物馆里昏过去。“我让他们左手扶着墙来找方向,他们都做不到。” Mattityahu如是说。




麦吉尔大学(加拿大著名研究型大学)博士后Patrice Voss 称:“许多研究表明,盲人会用枕骨区域来处理非视觉刺激,包括痛觉和触觉。”





(来源:BBC 翻译:实习编辑荣格

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