If one of your senses is impaired, do the others improve? My Ted Talk.

My ted talk is about cross modal neuroplasticity, and about how adaptable and versatile the human brain is. My question is around one sense being impaired, and if that truly affects your other senses. I thought of this topic, because I have been told that this is a myth and that nothing actually changes, but then been told that it’s true, so I wanted to see for myself what the real truth was. I am also interested in this kind of thing because my brother is hard of hearing, and I am always interested to see how that would affect the rest of the human brain. Without any further ado, here is my ted talk:


Ted Talk Notes

Ted Talk Script

Bibliography (In order of date accessed)


Shaw, Jillian L. “Heightened Senses: Cross-Modal Neuroplasticity.” Knowing Neurons. N.p., 05 Mar. 2017. Web. 9 June 2017

Bates, Mary. “Super Powers for the Blind and Deaf.” Scientific American. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2017.

Vandenhoff, Sandra. “Myth or Fact: If You Have Hearing Loss, Do Your Other Senses Compensate?” Myth or Fact: If You Have Hearing Loss, Your Other Senses Compensate. Hearing Education and Rehabilitation for Adultss, n.d. Web. 10 June 2017.

O’Connor, Anahad. “Really? The Brain Gets Rewired If One of the Senses Is Lost.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Aug. 2012. Web. 11 June 2017.

“How The Brain Compensates For Vision Loss Shows Much More Versatility Than Previously Recognized.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 Aug. 2008. Web. 11 June 2017.

O’Connor, Anahad. “Really? The Brain Gets Rewired If One of the Senses Is Lost.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Aug. 2012. Web. 11 June 2017.

Gougoux, F., R. J. Zatorre, M. Lassonde, P. Voss, and F. Lepore. “A Functional Neuroimaging Study of Sound Localization: Visual Cortex Activity Predicts Performance in Early-blind Individuals.” PLoS Biology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2005. Web. 11 June 2017.



Pape, Karen E., Dr., and Jonathan Webb. The Boy Who Could Run but Not Walk: Understanding Neuroplasticity in the Child’s Brain. Toronto: Barlow, 2016. Print

Costandi, Moheb. Neuroplasticity. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2016. Print.

Doidge, Norman, Dr. The Brain’s Way of Healing: Stories of Remarkable Recoveries and Discoveries. London: Penguin, 2016. Print.


Ted Talks Watched:

TEDxTalks. “Living without Shame: How We Can Empower Ourselves | Whitney Thore | TEDxGreensboro.” YouTube. YouTube, 08 July 2016. Web. 8 June 2017

TEDxTalks. “My Philosophy for a Happy Life | Sam Berns | TEDxMidAtlantic.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 9 June 2017

Cutts, Matt. “Try Something New for 30 Days.” Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days | TED Talk | TED.com. Ted Talks, n.d. Web. 10 June 2017.

Norton, Michael. “How to Buy Happiness.” Michael Norton: How to Buy Happiness | TED Talk | TED.com. Ted Talks, n.d. Web. 11 June 2017.

The Elastic Brain. Perf. Michael Merzenich. Youtube. Youtube, Feb. 2004. Web. 11 June 2017.


Ted Talks Watched (Students):

Sequin, Kendra. “Go To Sleep.” K E N D R A | Your Local Talons Blog. Talons Blogs, 17 June 2016. Web. 11 June 2017.

Boldut, Renee. “TED Talk: What Can Hallucinations Reveal About Our Minds?” Blog. Talons Blogs, 18 June 2016. Web. 11 June 2017.

Liggins, James. “Isolation and Lonelyness.” James’ Blog. Talons Blogs, 19 June 2016. Web. 12 June 2017.

Venkatesh, Anika. “Why Does Love Hurt so Good?” A Cluster of Thoughts. Talons Blogs, 18 June 2016. Web. 12 June 2017.

Sigerson, Ben. “Can Memories or Skills Be Passed on through Generations?” Benjamin S.Talons Blogs, 18 June 2016. Web. 12 June 2017.


8 thoughts on “If one of your senses is impaired, do the others improve? My Ted Talk.”

  1. Fantastic talk! Wow!

    I was really interested to learn that other senses “grow” into the spaces taken by unused senses. I didn’t know the brain could do that!
    I know that dogs have amazing smell, but their vision isn’t particularly good. Is this at all related?
    Also, are other parts of the brain able to adapt in the same way (using space from unused areas)?

    Amazing talk!

    1. Thanks Liam! Those are really good questions!
      For dogs, they are born with better hearing than vision, rather than their brain adapting after they are born, so I do not think that cross modal neuroplacticity comes in to play there. However, the way their brain’s develop when they are inside their mom might be a connection to my topic. It would be interesting to learn about! If I can find anything on it I will let you know.
      As for the other parts of the brain being able to adapt in the same way, I would assume so. There is a lot about the brain that scientists still don’t know, but as they learn more, they are finding out that it is more and more adaptable and versatile than they thought. The main parts I researched were senses, but other parts of the brain could definitely be altered by different life events, like a head injury.
      Thanks for your comment! :)

  2. Very well written and interesting ted talk Tori! I really enjoyed learning about how this topic because it is something I have been interested in as well. You have great projection in your voice, and your phrasing of your sentences are very effective. Your slides create a great visual for visual learners. Your intro is very captivating and makes me want to keep watching. You can tell your ted talk is well rehearsed and it is clear that you have a passion for this topic. Your body language and hand motions seem natural and they also add to your presentation. It is amazing how our brains are capable of rewiring themselves when one sense is impaired! I was wondering, say you lost your vision, is there one particular sense that rewires itself to the visual cortex, or does it change based on the person? Very interesting topic, that was well delivered! Great job!

    1. Thank you Melissa! In response to your question, if a sense is impaired, lets say vision for this example, the visual cortex would rewire itself to help out with multiple parts of the brain. It’s like the slide with the circles I showed in my ted talk. The other senses would all improve. So rather than the visual cortex having one new function, parts of it “become” helping parts of other cortexes. However, it wouldn’t necessarily divide exactly evenly so that part I guess does change depending on the person.
      Thanks for watching my ted talk!

  3. Great TED Talk Tori. As you said, your topic was one that many people had heard about, but few understood. The metaphors you used, such as the cottage you rent out, were really powerful and helped get your point across nicely. The slides that you used were very effective at supporting your points and sending the message to the viewers. The idea of Neuroplasticity is very interesting and is one of the many things I learned about throughout this TED talk. Overall, this talk gave me a better understanding of something that I had heard about, but didn’t know much about.

    1. Thank you for your comment Carter! I was hoping that the metaphors would help to bring the concept across. :) I think that the idea of neuroplasticity is really interesting too! I had never really looked into it before this talk and found it amazing to see what the brain can do.

  4. Your Project was so Interesting. It kept me engaged the whole time. It was informative, and the way that you presented it made so much more interesting. The question I have is, is their such a thing I losing your sense of touch and how would the brain adapt if that situation was possible.

    Overall I really enjoyed it!

    1. Thanks Megan! That’s a really interesting question! As far as I know, no it is not possible to lose your entire sense of touch. This is because your sense of touch technically isn’t one sense. There is temperature, pain, pressure, tickle, etc. So it is possible to not have your sense of pain (congenital analgesia), or one of those other “sub-senses”, but I do not believe it is possible to lose your entire sense of touch. However, you could lose your entire sense of touch to one specific area, for example, after surgery, sometimes that area is numb for a long time afterwards, sometimes years, if they use a certain type of anasthetic. As for how the brain would adapt, that would be different in every situation, as there are so many different parts of the sense of touch, so it would be impossible to name them all. However, it would likely be something similar to cross modal neuroplasticity.
      Hope that helped answer your question! :)
      Thanks for your comment.

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