We have discussed several aspects of the brain- and its ability to compensate for injury and disease. This is the mechanism by which stroke victims can relearn things that were lost- by using different parts of the brain.
The auditory complex in deaf people has not been receiving inputs for significant time periods. It has long been thought (some data) that those who are deaf from birth develop larger visual fields than hearing folks. The question was whether this region has been developed to amplify vision for the deaf.
Now a study published in Nature Neuroscience has shown that peripheral vision amplification does employ that portion of the brain (in deaf cats) that normally deals with peripheral hearing. Dr. Stephen Lomber of the University of Western Ontario along with Dr. Meredith of MCV (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Dr. Kraj of the Medical University of Hannover determined the peripheral vision of deaf cats by flashing lights at the periphery of their vision. If the researchers cooled the auditory cortex (which rendered its capabilities moot), the extra-ordinary peripheral vision capability was lost. It made little significant difference if they cooled the left side, the right side, or both sides.
The same process is being studied to determine what happens when the deaf receive cochlear implants. . The question to be answered: Once the cochlear implant is inserted, does the brain rewire itself or just continue using pathways long gone?