Mental Imagery Follows Similar Cortical Reorganization as Perception: Intra-Modal and Cross-Modal Plasticity in Congenitally Blind
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Academic › peer-review
Cortical plasticity in congenitally blind individuals leads to cross-modal activation of the visual cortex and may lead to superior perceptual processing in the intact sensory domains. Although mental imagery is often defined as a quasi-perceptual experience, it is unknown whether it follows similar cortical reorganization as perception in blind individuals. In this study, we show that auditory versus tactile perception evokes similar intra-modal discriminative patterns in congenitally blind compared with sighted participants. These results indicate that cortical plasticity following visual deprivation does not influence broad intra-modal organization of auditory and tactile perception as measured by our task. Furthermore, not only the blind, but also the sighted participants showed cross-modal discriminative patterns for perception modality in the visual cortex. During mental imagery, both groups showed similar decoding accuracies for imagery modality in the intra-modal primary sensory cortices. However, no cross-modal discriminative information for imagery modality was found in early visual cortex of blind participants, in contrast to the sighted participants. We did find evidence of cross-modal activation of higher visual areas in blind participants, including the representation of specific-imagined auditory features in visual area V4.
- auditory, blindness, decoding, mental imagery, tactile, PRIMARY AUDITORY-CORTEX, VISUAL-CORTEX, OCCIPITAL CORTEX, TACTILE ACUITY, WORKING-MEMORY, FUNCTIONAL-ORGANIZATION, SOMATOSENSORY CORTEX, SPATIAL LOCALIZATION, ANGLE DISCRIMINATION, ACTIVATION PATTERNS