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Full Access Processing streams in the early blind

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Processing streams in the early blind

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image of Multisensory Research
For more content, see Seeing and Perceiving and Spatial Vision.

It has long been established that the occipital cortex of early blind animals and humans is activated by nonvisual stimuli (Rauschecker, 1995). This has led to the concept of cross-modal compensatory plasticity. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging we have demonstrated that the middle occipital gyrus (MOG) of early blind humans retains its function in spatial localization and is activated in auditory and tactile spatial tasks (Renier et al., 2010). At the same time, visual-to-auditory substitution devices have been used to demonstrate that cortical areas in the visual ventral stream retain their function in object recognition, when they are stimulated by auditory and tactile ‘shapes’. The results confirm that cross-modal plasticity can restitute perceptual abilities in the blind that resemble vision. These abilities are supported by activating specialized processing streams in normally ‘visual’ cortex via preserved nonvisual inputs.

Affiliations: 1: Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA

It has long been established that the occipital cortex of early blind animals and humans is activated by nonvisual stimuli (Rauschecker, 1995). This has led to the concept of cross-modal compensatory plasticity. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging we have demonstrated that the middle occipital gyrus (MOG) of early blind humans retains its function in spatial localization and is activated in auditory and tactile spatial tasks (Renier et al., 2010). At the same time, visual-to-auditory substitution devices have been used to demonstrate that cortical areas in the visual ventral stream retain their function in object recognition, when they are stimulated by auditory and tactile ‘shapes’. The results confirm that cross-modal plasticity can restitute perceptual abilities in the blind that resemble vision. These abilities are supported by activating specialized processing streams in normally ‘visual’ cortex via preserved nonvisual inputs.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134808-000s0002
2013-05-16
2016-12-10

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