The neural basis of lip-reading capabilities is altered by early visual deprivation.
ABSTRACT The present study investigated the neural basis of lip-reading in patients treated for congenital bilateral cataracts using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). These patients represent a model to study the role of visual experience in early infancy for the development of visual functions. Short video clips with an adult speaker's lips mouthing different words were presented. The participants were asked to indicate whether the current word was the same as the previous one (one-back matching task). A control condition consisted of the same stimuli but with the task to judge whether the position of a small black dot superimposed on the lips changed location between trials. During both tasks, neural activity as indexed by fMRI, and behavioral data were recorded. The cataract patients' lip-reading performance was worse than that of a group of normally sighted controls, matched for age, gender, and education. By contrast, these groups did not differ in the visual control task. Only the control group showed reliable lip-reading specific activations in superior and middle temporal areas and in right parietal cortex, resulting in a significant group effect for these brain areas. Additional control participants with a late onset of visual impairments matching those of the cataract group showed comparable behavioral performance and similar fMRI activations in superior temporal areas as the normally sighted controls. These results suggest that a sensitive phase in early infancy might exist during which visual acuity must be sufficiently high to discriminate lip movements in order to allow for the emergence of a regular neural lip-reading system.
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ABSTRACT: Perceptual narrowing reflects the effects of early experience and contributes in key ways to perceptual and cognitive development. Previous studies have found that unisensory perceptual sensitivity in young infants is broadly tuned such that they can discriminate native as well as non-native sensory inputs but that it is more narrowly tuned in older infants such that they only respond to native inputs. Recently, my coworkers and I discovered that multisensory perceptual sensitivity narrows as well. The present article reviews this new evidence in the general context of multisensory perceptual development and the effects of early experience. Together, the evidence on unisensory and multisensory narrowing shows that early experience shapes the emergence of perceptual specialization and expertise. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol.Developmental Psychobiology 01/2014; · 2.60 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Amblyopia is a neurodevelopmental disorder of the visual system that is associated with disrupted binocular vision during early childhood. There is evidence that the effects of amblyopia extend beyond the primary visual cortex to regions of the dorsal and ventral extra-striate visual cortex involved in visual integration. Here, we review the current literature on global processing deficits in observers with either strabismic, anisometropic, or deprivation amblyopia. A range of global processing tasks have been used to investigate the extent of the cortical deficit in amblyopia including: global motion perception, global form perception, face perception, and biological motion. These tasks appear to be differentially affected by amblyopia. In general, observers with unilateral amblyopia appear to show deficits for local spatial processing and global tasks that require the segregation of signal from noise. In bilateral cases, the global processing deficits are exaggerated, and appear to extend to specialized perceptual systems such as those involved in face processing.Frontiers in Psychology 01/2014; 5:583. · 2.80 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Blind people rely more on vocal cues when they recognize a person's identity than sighted people. Indeed, a number of studies have reported better voice recognition skills in blind than in sighted adults. The present functional magnetic resonance imaging study investigated changes in the functional organization of neural systems involved in voice identity processing following congenital blindness. A group of congenitally blind individuals and matched sighted control participants were tested in a priming paradigm, in which two voice stimuli (S1, S2) were subsequently presented. The prime (S1) and the target (S2) were either from the same speaker (person-congruent voices) or from two different speakers (person-incongruent voices). Participants had to classify the S2 as either a old or a young person. Person-incongruent voices (S2) compared with person-congruent voices elicited an increased activation in the right anterior fusiform gyrus in congenitally blind individuals but not in matched sighted control participants. In contrast, only matched sighted controls showed a higher activation in response to person-incongruent compared with person-congruent voices (S2) in the right posterior superior temporal sulcus. These results provide evidence for crossmodal plastic changes of the person identification system in the brain after visual deprivation. Hum Brain Mapp, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Human Brain Mapping 03/2014; · 6.88 Impact Factor