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Nat Commun. 2015 Jan 23;6:6026. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7026.

A number-form area in the blind.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Neurobiology, The Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91220, Israel.
2
1] Collège de France, 11 Place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005 Paris, France [2] Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, 91191 Gif sur Yvette, France [3] Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Division of Life Sciences, Institute of Bioimaging, Neurospin, 91191 Gif sur Yvette, France [4] Université Paris 11, 91401 Orsay, France.
3
1] Department of Medical Neurobiology, The Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91220, Israel [2] The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91220, Israel [3] The Cognitive Science Program, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91220, Israel [4] Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, Institut de la Vision, UMR_S 968, Paris F-75012, France.

Abstract

Distinct preference for visual number symbols was recently discovered in the human right inferior temporal gyrus (rITG). It remains unclear how this preference emerges, what is the contribution of shape biases to its formation and whether visual processing underlies it. Here we use congenital blindness as a model for brain development without visual experience. During fMRI, we present blind subjects with shapes encoded using a novel visual-to-music sensory-substitution device (The EyeMusic). Greater activation is observed in the rITG when subjects process symbols as numbers compared with control tasks on the same symbols. Using resting-state fMRI in the blind and sighted, we further show that the areas with preference for numerals and letters exhibit distinct patterns of functional connectivity with quantity and language-processing areas, respectively. Our findings suggest that specificity in the ventral 'visual' stream can emerge independently of sensory modality and visual experience, under the influence of distinct connectivity patterns.

PMID:
25613599
PMCID:
PMC4338545
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms7026
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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