Brian Bushway – Uses echolocation in remarkable ways

The second blind person who is using echolocation is Brian Bushway. Brian lost his sight when his optic nerves deteriorated. He now is completely blind, but he is able to ride a bicycle without running into objects and identify objects in his surroundings that are far beyond what a person might identify using clicks in a sonar-like fashion. He can ride a bike while avoid obstacles, distinguish a bush from a tree, and tell a footpath’s direction. His abilities go far beyond being able to use clicking as a sort of sonar. As he said, “It was more than just hearing. I was actually imaging the world around me.”

Melvyn Goodale is a Canadian neuroscientist and director of the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Wester Ontario, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience. After working with Brian, he reported,

When we tested Brian on his ability to detect changes in the position of an object, he was absolutely astounding. He could tell if we moved the object only a few inches, something that I never expected someone who is echo-locating would be able to do. He doesn’t have super hearing or anything of that kind. He was tested by a clinical audiologist, you know, someone who tests how good your hearing is. He’s actually normal for his age. What he can do and what is quite amazing is he can attend to these very tiny echoes that we ignore.

Brian Bushway – Blind man using echolocation