Topographic maps and neural tuning for sensory substitution dimensions learned in adulthood in a congenital blind subject

Shir Hofstetter, Wietske Zuiderbaan, Benedetta Heimler, Serge O Dumoulin, Amir Amedi

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Topographic maps, a key principle of brain organization, emerge during development. It remains unclear, however, whether topographic maps can represent a new sensory experience learned in adulthood. MaMe, a congenitally blind individual, has been extensively trained in adulthood for perception of a 2D auditory-space (soundscape) where the y- and x-axes are represented by pitch and time, respectively. Using population receptive field mapping we found neural populations tuned topographically to pitch, not only in the auditory cortices but also in the parietal and occipito-temporal cortices. Topographic neural tuning to time was revealed in the parietal and occipito-temporal cortices. Some of these maps were found to represent both axes concurrently, enabling MaMe to represent unique locations in the soundscape space. This case study provides proof of concept for the existence of topographic maps tuned to the newly learned soundscape dimensions. These results suggest that topographic maps can be adapted or recycled in adulthood to represent novel sensory experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118029
JournalNeuroImage
Volume235
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2021

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