News ID: 115595
Published: 0323 GMT April 14, 2015

Brain sensory network not impaired with blindness: Study

Brain sensory network not impaired with blindness: Study

In new research, scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in Germany and the USA showed that the way in which the brain organizes its visual sense remains intact even in people who are blind from birth, and that at least the pattern of functional connectivity between the visual area and the topographical representation of space (up/down, left/right, etc.) can develop on its own without any actual visual experience.

The findings dispel the nearly half-century belief that the visual cortex, the area of the brain concerned with the sense of sight, completely fails to develop properly in people who are blind at birth, suggesting it might not be completely correct, Science Daily said.

"Though the 'blind brain' wiring may change greatly in the blind in its frontal language related parts, it still retains the most fundamental topographical and functional connectivity organizational principles of the visual cortex, known as 'retinotopic mapping', the processing of two-dimensional visual images through the eye," said co-lead researcher Amir Amedi, associate professor of medical neurobiology at Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and IMRIC, Canada.

Operating within the Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine, IMRIC coordinates research within the departmental areas of medical neurobiology, molecular genetics and biology, immunology and cancer research.

The researchers found that the same "mapping" divisions-of-labor present in the normally sighted brain are also present in the brains of people born blind as reflected from their resting state connectivity patterns. This fundamental organization of the visual cortex was even found in people whose eyes did not develop normally, suggesting normal eye development may not be necessary for the establishment of large-scale functional connectivity network mapping in the most fundamental visual areas like V1, the primary visual cortex.

 

 

 

   
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Resource: Science Daily
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