Since daredevil is blind, he has increased senses in everything other than sight, is this an actual thing in real life or is it just made up to go with the story? It would be really cool if it was a real thing.
Since daredevil is blind, he has increased senses in everything other than sight, is this an actual thing in real life or is it just made up to go with the story?
Yes, this is a real thing.
If you ever get the chance to study human biology, one of the first principles you learn about the brain is that it's plastic. This is to say that -- there's a feature of the brain that manages what each and every neuron's function is, and, depending on how frequently a neuron will actually perform it's assigned function, the brain may "reassign" the neuron to perform a different task.
By "default", the brain has a preprogrammed map of what neurons will perform what tasks, however, this map is subject to change, and is mostly based on external stimuli.
In the case of Daredevil, he first went blind around the age of 10. Given this fact, although the neurons that reside in his visual cortex did undergo differentiation, with their primary function contributing to Matt's sight, since this happened at a fairly young age, Matt's brain still had ampule opportunity to undergo the "remapping" that was previously mentioned.
- A 2013 publication by the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine, that presents observations and findings regarding visual cortex activity in early and late blind people:
Brain imaging studies describe visual cortex activity in blind people during nonvisual tasks such as Braille reading, hearing words, or sensory discriminations of tactile or auditory stimuli [for literature citations see Burton et al. (2002a,b) and Sadato et al. (2002)]. Simply stated, loss of vision does not lead to permanent inactivation of visual cortex. These counter-intuitive findings support the notion of altered capabilities for surviving modalities through reorganization of cortical functions.
- A 1996 publication by the National Institutes of Health that explores visual cortex activation by Braille reading in blind subjects:
Primary visual cortex receives visual input from the eyes through the lateral geniculate nuclei, but is not known to receive input from other sensory modalities. Its level of activity, both at rest and during auditory or tactile tasks, is higher in blind subjects than in normal controls, suggesting that it can subserve nonvisual functions; however, a direct effect of non-visual tasks on activation has not been demonstrated.
Blind subjects showed activation of primary and secondary visual cortical areas during tactile tasks, whereas normal controls showed deactivation. ... Thus in blind subjects, cortical areas normally reserved for vision may be activated by other sensory modalities.
If you're interested in the details of the biological concepts that were hinted at in this response, I strongly suggest you post this question on Biology.SE. If you do, I would perhaps ask to what extent the brain may compensate for sensory deprivation in certain functional regions, or, if sensory deprivation of a specific sense is known to directly enhance the performance of another specific sense.
I found a small study with only 28 people (12 blind and 16 not blind) that seems to indicate that the brain rewires itself to some extent to compensate for blindness by heightening its perception to other senses.
Having said that, there obviously needs to be deeper researches into this and this study may not really mean anything at all.