Losing which of your five senses — sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste — would worry you the most? If you choose sight, you’re in good company: the majority of people consider sight to be their most important sense. The researchers seem to feel the same way. In the relevant specialized literature there are many more studies on visual perception than on all other sensory channels. why is that?
It is often assumed that we primarily detect the world through our eyes and that our brain is specialized in processing visual stimuli. But is this impression really true? It is clear that sighted people depend in some way on visual perception for most daily activities. So the loss of the sense of sight would definitely be a serious turning point. On the other hand, with a little support, blind people can also actively participate in life. Whether it would really limit us less if we lost one of our other senses also remains open.
The loss of other sensory modalities can limit us at least as much as the loss of vision
Let’s take the sense of touch, for example. Total loss of touch is extremely rare, but it does happen – and it has dramatic effects, as the example of Ian Waterman shows. Due to a viral infection that damaged most of his sensory nerves from the neck down, the patient lost sense of his own body and place in space. From then on he could neither sit nor stand, much less walk. It was only after months of hard training that he was able to regain some of these abilities. In doing so, he learned to constantly visually monitor the position and movement of his limbs. This case alone shows that the loss of other sensory modalities can limit us at least as much as the loss of vision.
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