It’s baffled blindness researchers for years: why are Helen Keller jokes so funny?
Also, they’ve wondered how some blind people, despite not being able to see, still have accurate circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms dictate sleep, hormones, and other important functions and are based off of light, which blind people were assumed to be unable to detect. So how do they have the same schedules as people with vision?
The answer? Special neurons in the eyes that detect light on their own. They do work with the rods and cones, and transmit visual data, but their primary job is to detect blue light.
Why is this such a big deal? It helps us understand diseases like Seasonal Affective Disorder and a host of sleeping disorders. We might be on the verge of more effective treatments for these problems.
Also, now we can finally combine Helen Keller jokes with science. Why did Helen Keller miss her appointment? Because her circadian rhythms had been disrupted by the blue light shined in her eyes by her parents!
OK, maybe that one needs work.
[ via the sightseers at Scientific American ]