How Blindness Boosts Memory
Blind People May Become Particularly Good at Remembering Order
June 21, 2007 -- Blindness may improve memory by practice and necessity,
according to an Israeli study published today.
"We speculate that this may be a classical case of 'practice makes
perfect,'" write the researchers, who included Ehud Zohary, PhD, of the
neurobiology department at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Zohary's team studied 19 people who were born blind and 19 people with
Participants listened to a list of 20 words read aloud. Then they were
quizzed on the word list, including the order of words on the list.
In a series of quizzes, the congenitally blind participants consistently
outscored the sighted participants.
The blind participants were best at what the researchers call serial memory,
which is recalling long strings of words in the correct order from the word
Zohary's team confirmed that the blind and sighted participants were equally
The researchers argue that blindness spurs people to remember the order of
things so that they can distinguish between similar objects that only differ
For instance, the researchers note that when searching for a particular
flavor of yogurt on a shelf filled with similarly sized containers, a blind
person might remember that the flavor they want is the third container from the
Such attention to order and sequence may help memory in general, according
to Zohary's team
The study appears in the advance online edition of Current