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Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 30;7:45675. doi: 10.1038/srep45675.

Visual deprivation selectively reshapes the intrinsic functional architecture of the anterior insula subregions.

Liu L1,2, Yuan C1, Ding H3, Xu Y1, Long M1,2, Li Y1, Liu Y4,5,6,7, Jiang T4,5,6,8,9, Qin W1, Shen W2, Yu C1.

Author information

Department of Radiology, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Functional Imaging, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, Tianjin 300052, China.
Department of Radiology, Tianjin First Central Hospital, Tianjin 300192, China.
School of Medical Imaging, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin 300070, China.
Brainnetome Center. Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China.
National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China.
CAS Center for Excellence in Brain, Science and Intelligence Technology, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China.
Key Laboratory for NeuroInformation of the Ministry of Education, School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 625014, China.
The Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.


The anterior insula (AI) is the core hub of salience network that serves to identify the most relevant stimuli among vast sensory inputs and forward them to higher cognitive regions to guide behaviour. As blind subjects were usually reported with changed perceptive abilities for salient non-visual stimuli, we hypothesized that the resting-state functional network of the AI is selectively reorganized after visual deprivation. The resting-state functional connectivity (FC) of the bilateral dorsal and ventral AI was calculated for twenty congenitally blind (CB), 27 early blind (EB), 44 late blind (LB) individuals and 50 sighted controls (SCs). The FCs of the dorsal AI were strengthened with the dorsal visual stream, while weakened with the ventral visual stream in the blind than the SCs; in contrast, the FCs of the ventral AI of the blind was strengthened with the ventral visual stream. Furthermore, these strengthened FCs of both the dorsal and ventral AI were partially negatively associated with the onset age of blindness. Our result indicates two parallel pathways that selectively transfer non-visual salient information between the deprived "visual" cortex and salience network in blind subjects.

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