Numerous studies have found that congenitally blind individuals have better verbal memory than their normally sighted counterparts. However, it is not known whether this reflects a superiority of verbal abilities or of memory abilities. In order to distinguish between these possibilities,
we tested congenitally blind participants and age-matched, normally sighted control participants on verbal and spatial memory tasks, as well as on verbal fluency tasks and a spatial imagery task. Congenitally blind participants were significantly better than sighted controls on the verbal
memory and verbal fluency tasks, but not on the spatial memory or spatial imagery tasks. Thus, the congenitally blind have superior verbal, but not spatial, abilities. This may be related to their greater reliance on verbal information and to the growing literature endorsing involvement of
visual cortex in language processing in the congenitally blind.