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6. Simultanagnostic Vision and Other Senses

We know from accounts people with simultanagnostic vision have shared with us that listening, while also having to concentrate on looking is very difficult. We have discussed this in the Cerebral Auditory Impairment section. The short behaviour section Not Looking to Listen probably relates to this experience, particularly for people who have more profound disabilities.

With simultanagnostic vision the challenges of looking and listening at the same time, affect the person in two ways. If they are trying very hard to listen, their ability to see may be reduced, sometimes completely. Equally, their ability to hear, while focusing on looking, may be reduced, without their knowing.

We have also been told that when an environment is challenging, a smell can become overpowering, or a taste may change.

Mary has reported that when she is in very complex visual environments that are difficult for her, often her sense of smell is affected as well. She describes suddenly having an acute awareness of an overpowering smell and this causes significant distraction impairing her movement through the environment. This also results in her other senses, including her vision and hearing, becoming dysfunctional.

A good example of this, is when Mary enters the makeup and perfume section of a department store. This environment is very challenging visually, because of the bright glary lights, the stark colour scheme and the crowded displays. It is also generally very noisy, especially when busy. From past experiences, Mary always feels anxious walking through these environments, because sales people often loom up and talk to her, which always frightens her. But the worst part, is the smell. Mary gets so overwhelmed, that she can't think of anything else. She cannot use her vision to move through the space effectively and safely. She cannot think logically about where she needs to go and often, she cannot hear people around her. All she can think of is the smell. Spending even a short period in a perfume department, always leaves Mary with a headache.


  • I sometimes struggle to hear people
  • I know that at times, when I am struggling to listen, that my vision deteriorates
  • Sometimes I will develop an overwhelming sense of smell


  • Can appear not to be listening or not to be interested
  • Turns away when being spoken to

Profoundly Disabled People

In profoundly disabled people, reduced Simultanagnostic Vision and other Senses may come across, in addition to the above as:

  • Being disorientating and frightening, and may suddenly become agitated in an environment.
  • Sometimes being over sensitive to noise, and at other times unresponsive.
  • Sometimes seeing reasonably well, other times seeing nothing


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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.