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Full Access Restricted recovery of external remapping of tactile stimuli after restoring vision in a congenitally blind man

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Restricted recovery of external remapping of tactile stimuli after restoring vision in a congenitally blind man

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For more content, see Multisensory Research and Spatial Vision.

People with surgically removed congenital dense bilateral cataracts offer a natural model of visual deprivation and reafferentation in humans to investigate sensitive periods of multisensory development, for example regarding the recruitment of external or anatomical frames of reference for spatial representation. Here we present a single case (HS; male; 33 years; right-handed), born with congenital dense bilateral cataracts. His lenses were removed at the age of two years, but he received optical aids only at age six. At time of testing, his visual acuity was 30% in the best eye. We performed two tasks, a tactile temporal order judgment task (TOJ) in which two tactile stimuli were presented successively to the index fingers located in the two hemifields, adopting a crossed and uncrossed hand posture. The participant judged as precisely as possible which side was stimulated first. Moreover, we used a crossmodal-congruency task in which a tactile stimulus and an irrelevant visual distracter were presented simultaneously but independently to one of four positions. The participant judged the location (index or thumb) of the tactile stimulus with hands crossed or uncrossed. Speed was emphasized. In contrast to sighted controls, HS did not show a decrement of TOJ performance with hands crossed. Moreover, while the congruency gain was equivalent to sighted controls with uncrossed hands, this effect was significantly reduced with hands crossed. Thus, an external remapping of tactile stimuli still develops after a long phase of visual deprivation. However, remapping seems to be less efficient and to only take place in the context of visual stimuli.

Affiliations: 1: 1University of Hamburg, DE; 2: 2LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, IN

People with surgically removed congenital dense bilateral cataracts offer a natural model of visual deprivation and reafferentation in humans to investigate sensitive periods of multisensory development, for example regarding the recruitment of external or anatomical frames of reference for spatial representation. Here we present a single case (HS; male; 33 years; right-handed), born with congenital dense bilateral cataracts. His lenses were removed at the age of two years, but he received optical aids only at age six. At time of testing, his visual acuity was 30% in the best eye. We performed two tasks, a tactile temporal order judgment task (TOJ) in which two tactile stimuli were presented successively to the index fingers located in the two hemifields, adopting a crossed and uncrossed hand posture. The participant judged as precisely as possible which side was stimulated first. Moreover, we used a crossmodal-congruency task in which a tactile stimulus and an irrelevant visual distracter were presented simultaneously but independently to one of four positions. The participant judged the location (index or thumb) of the tactile stimulus with hands crossed or uncrossed. Speed was emphasized. In contrast to sighted controls, HS did not show a decrement of TOJ performance with hands crossed. Moreover, while the congruency gain was equivalent to sighted controls with uncrossed hands, this effect was significantly reduced with hands crossed. Thus, an external remapping of tactile stimuli still develops after a long phase of visual deprivation. However, remapping seems to be less efficient and to only take place in the context of visual stimuli.

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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x648198
2012-01-01
2017-11-20

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