Recovery from Early Blindness

1. For a summary review of these cases, see von Senden, Space and Sight (1960) pp. 326 - 35.

2.R. Latta: Notes on a Case of Successful Operation for Congenital Cataract in an Adult. British Journal of Psychology, Vol. i, 1904, pp. 135 - 50.

3. A description of de la Mettrieís comparatively little known but remarkable work is to be found in The History of Materialism by F. A. Lange; Transi. Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner and Co. (1925).

4. W. Penfield and T. Rasmussen: The Cerebral Cortex of Man (1950), London, Macmillan.

5. F. C. Bartlett, (1932) Remembering. Cambridge University Press.

6. Uhthoff, W. (1890) Helmholtz-Festschrift z. 70 Geburtstag. (Special edition, Hamburg, 1891)

7. This may not be very different from the earlier cases, for the state of the eyes in infancy has not previously been recorded. We should expect opacity in lens or cornea to increase in infancy, and it is unlikely that vision is ever absent in the early weeks or months in operable cases of blindness.

8. The upper case letters were taught since they often occur embossed on name plates, and they are useful to the blind, whereas lower case letters are seldom used in embossed form and so were not taught.

9. Although this is often quoted at its face value, it is worth remembering that normally a strong light, particularly if painful, is not regarded so much as "out there" as in the eye itself. The same is true for intense (and unusual?) stimuli in any sense modality. E.g. a very loud sound is a sensation in the ear.

10. Since undertaking this investigation, we have made an intensive investigation of the geometrical illusions, and have come to the conclusion that they arise from discrepancy between estimated distance and degree of constancy evoked by such perceptual features as perspective lines. The illusion figures presented here seem to produce distortion of visual space by evoking constancy which is inappropriate to the flat plane (visible as a textured surface) on which the figures lie. On this view, we might say that the anomalous results obtained for S.B. show that these figures did not serve to evoke constancy scaling for him, and thus the illusions were absent.

11. See G. Revesz, (1950) Psychology and Art of the Blind (Transi. H. A. Wolff) London, Longmanís.and V. Lowenfeld, (1952) The Nature of the Creative Activity (Transi. O. A. Oeser) Routledge.

12. The same objections apply, mutalis,nutandis, to arguments from studies such as those of A. H. Riesen (see, e.g. his chapter in "Plasticity of Behaviour" in Biological and Biochemical Bases of Behaviour, edited by H. F. Harlow and C. N. Woolsey, Wisconsin, 1958) on bringing up animals in darkness and then studying their behaviour as adults after exposure to light. Studies of this kind are of course important in so far as they throw light on arrested development and its sequelae but it is doubtful whether inferences regarding normal development can properly be based upon them.

13. See, e.g. K. Goldstein: Restitution in Injuries to the Brain Cortex. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry (Chicago), Vol. 27, 1932, pp. 736 - 44.

14. Professor D. O. Hebb has suggested to us that the surprising degree of cross-modal transfer which we ascertained in this case may have been due to the amount of vision available to the patient in early infancy. (Hebb, personal communication, 1961). [This could hardly apply to writing or telling the time.]

15. G. Ettlinger. Cross-modal transfer of training in monkeys. Behaviour, 1960 16, 56 - 65. D. Burton and G. Ettlinger, Cross-modal transfer of training in monkeys, Nature, 1960, 186, 1071 - 2.

16. At Dr. von Sendenís request, a few minor alterations in phraseology have been made to improve his already excellent English (Editor).

17. Miss Sylvia Schweppe, of the British Museum, was instrumental in arranging for Dr. von Sendenís book to be translated into English and published. The story of how she managed to find a micro-film copy of the German - the publisherís copies were destroyed by Allied bombing - and how she overcame other difficulties is quite remarkable.

18. As described, his drawings were from memory, and some were of objects he had never seen, especially the chipping hammer.