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Gordon Dutton’s Blog (7) CVI and locating sound

  • Many people with CVI are described as being less accurate than others in locating where sound is coming from
  • There may well be an auditory component to the phenomenon of Looming, as described on this website, namely a sense of unmapped sounds being intrusive
  • Lack of ability to locate where sound is coming from, by those with CVI has, I believe, yet to be described in refereed medical literature. But this does not mean that the condition does not exist

CVI may not be just 'Visual' it probably affects how sound is processed as well in some people.

In this Blog I would like to share another observation with you, which may have the same foundation as the phenomenon of Looming, which has been well described on this website by a body of parents and affected adults.

Many people with CVI are described as being less accurate than others in locating where sound is coming from.

During the last decade of seeing both adults and children with a wide range of types of CVI, I've repeatedly heard the story that those affected cannot easily tell where voices are coming from.

It's certainly been helpful to know that this is an issue to look out for, because one might expect that calling to someone with low vision would help them find you, so it's useful to know this may not be the case.

If calling out doesn't help, then other methods may prove more successful. When out and about together, some families have found that instead of calling to the family member with CVI, they speak to them on their mobile, so that the affected family member can be told which way to look to see where the sound is coming from. The question which then arises, is whether by using techniques like this, it may be possible to help train those affected to orient more accurately to where sound is coming from.

Another important issue to look into of course, is whether an individual with CVI can locate the sound of an oncoming car. Again, I've often heard from families that this can be difficult, and so, hazardous.

Why might location of sound be impaired in some people affected with CVI?

I believe the answer may relate to how the brain maps out our surroundings. It does this with the posterior parietal lobes. Those who have had injury to the posterior parietal lobes may visually map their surroundings less accurately.

It is therefore tempting to suggest that this 3D mental re-creation of our surroundings is made up of sound as well as sight, and quite possibly, information provided by the other senses too. So if the part of the brain that does this for us is injured or not working so well, then our accuracy of mapping our visual and auditory surroundings could both be less accurate.

If this is the case, then there may well be an auditory component to the phenomenon ofLooming, as described on this website, namely a sense of unmapped sounds being intrusive, as well as sight.

Lack of ability to locate where sound is coming from, by those with CVI has, I believe, yet to be described in refereed medical literature. But this does not mean that the condition does not exist.

Many medical ideas start out with clinical observations. Both Looming and lack of ability to locate sound accurately, may be due to less accurate mapping of our surroundings, and are potentially subjects for research and validation, so that they no longer remain observations and hypotheses, but if validated, evolve into 'facts'.

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