The brain's understanding of spatial awareness is not only triggered by vision but involves other senses such as touch, found in a recently conducted study.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh took MRI brain scans of both sighted volunteers and others who had been blind since birth while they examined three-dimensional spaces.
Both groups were first asked to feel three-dimensional Lego models representing a geometric layout of a room and models of abstract objects containing no enclosed spaces.
The sighted volunteers were then also asked to look at photographs of the same rooms and objects.
The scans showed that activity in the part of the brain that computes the spatial layout of a scene known as the parahippocampal place area was doubled for the sighted volunteers when it was compared with when they looked at images of abstract objects.
Remarkably, this brain activity was also much stronger for rooms compared with objects when the sighted volunteers touched the models without being able to see them.
Given that the non-sighted participants showed the same results, demonstrated that the parahippocampal place area receives spatial information from multiple senses.