Cross-modal plasticity preserves functional specialization in posterior parietal cortex
Number of pages
SourceCerebral Cortex, 24, 2, (2014), pp. 541-549
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control
In congenitally blind individuals, many regions of the brain that are typically heavily involved in visual processing are recruited for a variety of nonvisual sensory and cognitive tasks ( Rauschecker 1995; Pascual-Leone et al. 2005). This phenomenonucross-modal plasticityuhas been widely documented, but the principles that determine where and how cross-modal changes occur remain poorly understood ( Bavelier and Neville 2002). Here, we evaluate the hypothesis that cross-modal plasticity respects the type of computations performed by a region, even as it changes the modality of the inputs over which they are carried out ( Pascual-Leone and Hamilton 2001). We compared the fMRI signal in sighted and congenitally blind participants during proprioceptively guided reaching. We show that parietooccipital reach-related regions retain their functional roleuencoding of the spatial position of the reach targetueven as the dominant modality in this region changes from visual to nonvisual inputs. This suggests that the computational role of a region, independently of the processing modality, codetermines its potential cross-modal recruitment. Our findings demonstrate that preservation of functional properties can serve as a guiding principle for cross-modal plasticity even in visuomotor cortical regions, i.e. beyond the early visual cortex and other traditional visual areas.
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