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“Superhumans” and extraordinary powers

Are some people superhuman or are the rest of us just not tapping into our potential?

Lawrence D. Rosenblum is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California. See What I’m Saying, The Extraordinary Powers of Our Five Senses is his book. In it he demonstrates over and over how seemingly superhuman powers can be mastered by us regular folks.

Echolocation? Great, we can do that! Smell the difference between a $1 and $65 cup of coffee? Yes. And yes, $65 coffee is what happens after the bean has passed through the stomach of an Indonesian civet, collected and then cleaned.

Admittedly I went pretty quickly to the chapter on touch – I was intrigued to see how some people have developed this sense as it’s something that I feel is more developed as a therapist.

I would really encourage you to check out painter John Bramblitt. He began painting after he lost his sight. He uses touch to feel the outline of the painting he is working on and oil paint so he can feel the viscosity and therefore colour of paint he has mixed. Pretty incredible.

A portrait of Einstein by John Bramblitt
Painting by John Bramblitt

These amazing skills come from something called cross-modal plasticity. Simply put, and for example in Bramblitt’s case, the area of the brain that would normally be dedicated to sight has become co-opted by touch sense. Amazingly, all it takes to get the visual part of the brain involved in your sense of touch is 90 minutes of being blindfolded. The effects are short-lived but it shows how quickly the brain can adapt to sensory changes.

Time to start working on those superhuman powers. Let us know how it goes!