9. The Blind Have More Nightmares
Can the blind see in their dreams? Yes, but only when they lost their sight was later in life. Interestingly, people who are born blind also have nightmares but experience them as emotions, sounds, and sensations, rather than anything visual.
A recent study roped in volunteers in three groups to learn more about dreams. The first was born blind, the second turned blind and the final group had normal vision. Anxiety can trigger nightmares, but none of the participants had more jitters than the rest. Despite this, there was a major difference. The majority of nightmares showed up when the sight-impaired went to sleep.
The blind-from-birth group had the most (around 25 percent of their dreams), while those who became blind underwent a curious decline. The longer they were blind, the fewer visuals appeared in their nightmares. However, the rate at which they had unpleasant dreams remained more frequent than the volunteers who could see.
The study supported the theory that nightmares are linked to waking experiences. After all, when a person must navigate society in total darkness, they live with a higher awareness of threats and feelings of vulnerability.
8. Babies Notice Everything
Infants see reality in its entirety while adults no longer do. Grownups literally lose the ability to notice all the details in their visual field, but there is a good reason for that. Seeing every line, crack and hair will result in sensory overload. Babies need to see everything because their world is new and their brains are still figuring out what is important and what to ignore.
In 2016, Japanese scientists showed babies photos of snails. A previous study had confirmed that infants stare for longer at new things and the snail-wielding scientists relied on that fact to determine whether children can see differences no longer obvious to adults. The photographs looked similar to the adult volunteers but the researchers knew which ones held subtle differences—and the rugrats found them.
This was most obvious with those aged between three and four months old. However, the freaky supervision seems to disappear between the ages of five and eight months. By then, the newborn brain has realized that some things can be shelved and other details, like Mom’s face, are more important.
7. Children Who See Like Dolphins
The Moken is a nomadic sea-people and lives along the coastlines of Thailand, and the Andaman Sea. Adults hunt with spears but the kids dive for food and it was the youngsters’ ability to effortlessly find sea cucumbers and clams that provoked curiosity. More specifically, scientists noticed that Moken children navigated underwater without squinting their eyes.
The researchers roped in European children on holiday and Moken volunteers. Several tests later and it became obvious that the local kids could see with clarity under the sea while everything appeared blurry to the Europeans. Remarkably, the Moken divers taught the holidaymakers how to do it but when asked, the visiting kids could not explain the actual process. They just “saw better.”
This called for physical analysis. In a mysterious twist, the sea-nomads could change the shape of their eye lens and make the pupil smaller. This eliminated the fuzziness other people normally encounter underwater. This ability has only been found in dolphins and seals. How they do it, or why they lose this incredible ability in adulthood, remains unknown.
6. The Woman Who Sees 100 Million Colors
The human eye is adept at telling shades apart, allowing the average person to distinguish between 1 million colors. Even color-blind individuals notice around 100,000 different tints. The extreme end of the scale was found in 2007 when neuroscientists encountered a woman capable of seeing 100 million colors.
The unnamed doctor from the United Kingdom was a “tetrachromat.” She was born with an extra cone cell in her eye, which prompted the super-vision. People with this additional fourth cone are so scarce that it took researchers 25 years to track down and confirm she was a genuine tetrachromat. Their existence has been suspected since the 1980s and her color tally was mathematically calculated.
A few more women were later identified, but nobody knows how many tetrachromats are out there or why it seems to be an all-female trait. Why do these women, an estimated 12 percent of the population, not come forward? Scientists suspect that most true tetrachromats never use their extra cone and thus do not realize how special they are. One explanation is that the world’s color use is geared towards “normal” vision, which might deactivate this ability.