Cross-Modal Plasticity Preserves Functional Specialization in Posterior Parietal Cortex

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Cross-Modal Plasticity Preserves Functional Specialization in Posterior Parietal Cortex

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Title: Cross-Modal Plasticity Preserves Functional Specialization in Posterior Parietal Cortex
Author: Lingnau, A.; Strnad, Lukas; He, Chenxi; Fabbri, Sara; Han, Zaizhu; Bi, Yanchao; Caramazza, Alfonso

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Citation: Lingnau, A., L. Strnad, C. He, S. Fabbri, Z. Han, Y. Bi, and A. Caramazza. 2012. “Cross-Modal Plasticity Preserves Functional Specialization in Posterior Parietal Cortex.” Cerebral Cortex 24 (2) (October 31): 541–549. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhs340.
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Abstract: 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 phenomenon—cross-modal plasticity—has 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 role—encoding of the spatial position of the reach target-even 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.
Published Version: doi:10.1093/cercor/bhs340
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33719911
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