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See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 1

Blind Kids Gain Vision Late in Childhood While Giving a Lesson in Brain Science

Surgery in blind children from India allows them to see for the first time and reveals how vision works in the brain

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My mother used to keep a small blue glass bowl of change near the door of our house in New Delhi. When she went out, she would take a few coins as alms for the poor that one inevitably sees on the city's streets. Given how quickly you can become desensitized to the abundance of human misery in India, I was always impressed by her unwavering adherence to this ritual.

The bowl lay unused for several months as my mother battled cancer. When I went back to India in 2002, a year after her death, I noticed that it was one of the few items of hers that my father had saved. Little did I realize that it was going to change my life.

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