How the brain reacts to loss of vision: Going blind affects all senses, and disrupts memory ability -- ScienceDailyBefore any changes had developed in the sensory cortices, the researchers observed that loss of vision was first followed by changes in the density of neurotransmitter receptors and impairments of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. In subsequent months, hippocampal plasticity became more impaired and spatial memory was affected. During this time the density of neurotransmitter receptors also changed in the visual cortex, as well as in other cortical areas that process other sensory information. "After blindness occurs, the brain tries to compensate for the loss by ramping up its sensitivity to the missing visual signals," explains Denise Manahan-Vaughan, who led the study. When this fails to work, the other sensory modalities begin to adapt and increase their acuities. "Our study shows that this process of reorganisation is supported by extensive changes in the expression and function of key neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. This is a major undertaking, during which time the hippocampus' ability to store spatial experiences is hampered," says Manahan-Vaughan.