You are reading right now. (Lucky guess!) As your eyes observe the words on this page, an area deep inside your brain, called the visual word form area, is helping you turn the different shapes you’re seeing into letters. But wait—what if you couldn’t see the letters at all?
Braille is a tactile reading and writing system. People who are blind or visually impaired can use it to read by touch. In the Braille alphabet, raised dots spell out words, numbers, and punctuation. Each six-dot Braille “cell” offers 64 possible combinations. Advanced Braille even uses shorthand symbols for common words—sort of like when someone texts “ttyl” instead of “talk to you later.”
Incredibly, scientists have discovered that some people who read Braille by touch use the same part of their brains to read (the visual part!) as sighted people do.
Brilliant Brain Science
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