Article: article from journal or magazin.
Mechanisms of cross-modal plasticity in early-blind subjects.
Journal of Neurophysiology
A variety of studies have demonstrated enhanced blood oxygenation level dependent responses to auditory and tactile stimuli within occipital cortex as a result of early blindness. However, little is known about the organizational principles that drive this cross-modal plasticity. We compared BOLD responses to a wide variety of auditory and tactile tasks (vs. rest) in early-blind and sighted subjects. As expected, cross-modal responses were larger in blind than in sighted subjects in occipital cortex for all tasks (cross-modal plasticity). Within both blind and sighted subject groups, we found patterns of cross-modal activity that were remarkably similar across tasks: a large proportion of cross-modal responses within occipital cortex are neither task nor stimulus specific. We next examined the mechanisms underlying enhanced BOLD responses within early-blind subjects. We found that the enhancement of cross-modal responses due to early blindness was best described as an additive shift, suggesting that cross-modal plasticity within blind subjects does not originate from either a scaling or unmasking of cross-modal responsivities found in sighted subjects.
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