Enhanced verbal abilities in the congenitally blind

Valeria Occelli, Simon Lacey, Careese Stephens, Lotfi B. Merabet, K. Sathian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous studies have found that congenitally blind individuals have better verbal memory than their normally sighted counterparts. However, it is not known whether this reflects superiority of verbal or memory abilities. In order to distinguish between these possibilities, we tested congenitally blind participants and normally sighted control participants, matched for age and education, on a range of verbal and spatial tasks. Congenitally blind participants were significantly better than sighted controls on all the verbal tasks but the groups did not differ significantly on the spatial tasks. Thus, the congenitally blind appear to have superior verbal, but not spatial, abilities. This may reflect greater reliance on verbal information and the involvement of visual cortex in language processing in the congenitally blind.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1709-1718
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Digit span
  • Imagery
  • Memory
  • Spatial


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