A sensitive period for language in the visual cortex: Distinct patterns of plasticity in congenitally versus late blind adults

TitleA sensitive period for language in the visual cortex: Distinct patterns of plasticity in congenitally versus late blind adults
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsBedny, M., Pascual-Leone A., Dravida S., & Saxe R.
JournalBrain and Language
Volume122
Issue3
Pagination162 - 170
Date Published09/2011
ISSN0093934X
Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that blindness enables visual circuits to contribute to language processing. We examined whether this dramatic functional plasticity has a sensitive period. BOLD fMRI signal was measured in congenitally blind, late blind (blindness onset 9-years-old or later) and sighted participants while they performed a sentence comprehension task. In a control condition, participants listened to backwards speech and made match/non-match to sample judgments. In both, congenitally and late blind participants BOLD signal increased in bilateral foveal-pericalcarine cortex during response preparation, irrespective of whether the stimulus was a sentence or backwards speech. However, only in congenitally blind people left occipital areas (pericalcarine, extrastriate, fusiform and lateral) responded more to sentences than backwards speech. We conclude that age of blindness onset constrains the non-visual functions of occipital cortex: while plasticity is present in both congenitally and late blind individuals, recruitment of visual circuits for language depends on blindness during childhood.

URLhttps://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0093934X11001799
DOI10.1016/j.bandl.2011.10.005
Short TitleBrain and Language

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