Format

Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurophysiol. 2015 Apr 1;113(7):2889-99. doi: 10.1152/jn.01031.2014. Epub 2015 Feb 11.

Subcortical functional reorganization due to early blindness.

Author information

1
Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB), Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, United Kingdom; gaelle.coullon@gmail.com.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada; and Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
4
Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB), Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, United Kingdom; Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom;
5
Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB), Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, United Kingdom;

Abstract

Lack of visual input early in life results in occipital cortical responses to auditory and tactile stimuli. However, it remains unclear whether cross-modal plasticity also occurs in subcortical pathways. With the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging, auditory responses were compared across individuals with congenital anophthalmia (absence of eyes), those with early onset (in the first few years of life) blindness, and normally sighted individuals. We find that the superior colliculus, a "visual" subcortical structure, is recruited by the auditory system in congenital and early onset blindness. Additionally, auditory subcortical responses to monaural stimuli were altered as a result of blindness. Specifically, responses in the auditory thalamus were equally strong to contralateral and ipsilateral stimulation in both groups of blind subjects, whereas sighted controls showed stronger responses to contralateral stimulation. These findings suggest that early blindness results in substantial reorganization of subcortical auditory responses.

KEYWORDS:

blindness; cross-modal plasticity; medial geniculate nucleus; subcortical pathways; superior colliculus

PMID:
25673746
PMCID:
PMC4416636
DOI:
10.1152/jn.01031.2014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center