Marina Bedny

Marina Bedny
Johns Hopkins University | JHU · Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences

PhD

About

72
Publications
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2,665
Citations

Publications

Publications (72)
Article
The neural basis of reading is highly consistent across many languages and scripts. Are there alternative neural routes to reading? How does the sensory modality of symbols (tactile vs. visual) influence their neural representations? We examined these questions by comparing reading of visual print (sighted group, n = 19) and tactile Braille (congen...
Article
How do life experiences impact cortical function? In people who are born blind, the “visual” cortices are recruited during nonvisual tasks, such as Braille reading and sound localization. Do visual cortices have a latent capacity to respond to nonvisual information throughout the lifespan? Alternatively, is there a sensitive period of heightened pl...
Article
Full-text available
Previous studies suggest that people who are congenitally blind outperform sighted people on some memory tasks. Whether blindness-associated memory advantages are specific to verbal materials or are also observed with nonverbal sounds has not been determined. Congenitally blind individuals (n = 20) and age and education matched blindfolded sighted...
Article
Occipital cortices of different sighted people contain analogous maps of visual information (e.g. foveal vs. peripheral). In congenital blindness, "visual" cortices respond to nonvisual stimuli. Do visual cortices of different blind people represent common informational maps? We leverage naturalistic stimuli and inter-subject pattern similarity ana...
Preprint
Full-text available
How do life experiences impact cortical function? In people who are born blind, the "visual" cortices are recruited for nonvisual tasks such as Braille reading and sound localization (e.g., Collignon et al., 2011; Sadato et al., 1996). The mechanisms of this recruitment are not known. Do visual cortices have a latent capacity to respond to nonvisua...
Preprint
The neural basis of reading is highly consistent across a wide range of languages and scripts. Are there alternative neural routes to reading? How does the sensory modality of symbols (tactile vs. visual) influence their neural representations? We examined these questions by comparing reading of visual print by sighted people (n=15) and reading of...
Article
Empiricist philosophers such as Locke famously argued that people born blind might learn arbitrary color facts (e.g., marigolds are yellow) but would lack color understanding. Contrary to this intuition, we find that blind and sighted adults share causal understanding of color, despite not always agreeing about arbitrary color facts. Relative to si...
Article
Classic theories emphasize the primacy of first-person sensory experience for learning meanings of words: to know what “see” means, one must be able to use the eyes to perceive. Contrary to this idea, blind adults and children acquire normative meanings of “visual” verbs, e.g., interpreting “see” and “look” to mean with the eyes for sighted agents....
Article
Although humans are unique among animals in their ability to manipulate symbolic numbers, we share with other species an approximate number sense that allows us to estimate and compare the number of objects or events in a set, such as the number of apples in a tree. Our ability to discriminate the numerosity of two sets decreases as the ratio betwe...
Article
Studies of occipital cortex plasticity in blindness provide insight into how intrinsic constraints interact with experience to determine cortical specialization. We tested the cognitive nature and anatomical origins of occipital responses during non-verbal, non-spatial auditory tasks. In a go/no-go task, congenitally blind (N=23) and sighted (N=24)...
Preprint
Full-text available
Occipital cortices of different sighted people contain analogous maps of visual information (e.g., foveal vs. peripheral space). In congenital blindness, “visual” cortices enhance responses to nonvisual stimuli. Do deafferented visual cortices of different blind people represent common informational maps? We leverage a naturalistic stimulus paradig...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the importance of programming to modern society, the cognitive and neural bases of code comprehension are largely unknown. Programming languages might ‘recycle’ neurocognitive mechanisms originally developed for natural languages. Alternatively, comprehension of code could depend on fronto-parietal networks shared with other culturally-inve...
Preprint
Full-text available
Empiricist philosophers such as Locke famously argued that people born blind could only acquire shallow, fragmented facts about color. Contrary to this intuition, we report that blind and sighted people share an in-depth understanding of color, despite disagreeing about arbitrary color facts. Relative to the sighted, blind individuals are less like...
Preprint
Classic theories emphasize the primacy of first-person sensory experience for learning meanings of words: to know what “see” means, one must be able to use the eyes to perceive. Contrary to this idea, blind adults and children acquire normative meanings of “visual” verbs, e.g., interpreting “see” and “look” to mean with the eyes for sighted agents....
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite the importance of programming to modern society, the cognitive and neural bases of code comprehension are largely unknown. Programming languages might 'recycle' neurocognitive mechanisms originally used for natural languages. Alternatively, comprehension of code could depend on fronto-parietal networks shared with other culturally derived s...
Poster
Full-text available
Computer programming is a recent cultural invention that makes use of neural circuits evolved for other cognitive domains. In this study, we investigated the neural basis underlying code comprehension. While undergoing fMRI, eleven expert-programmers (>5 years of experience) performed a code comprehension task and four non-programming tasks previo...
Poster
Full-text available
Symbolic math (e.g. 17 – 3) and formal logical thinking (e.g. if X then Y) depend on distinct neural mechanism from natural language and both recruit the intraparietal sulci (IPS) (Monti et al., 2009, PNAS; Amalric and Dehaene, 2018, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B). Do these culturally derived symbol manipulation systems depend on overlapping neural resour...
Article
People born blind habitually experience linguistic utterances in the absence of visual cues. Neuroimaging evidence suggests that congenitally blind individuals also activate “visual” cortices during sentence comprehension. Do blind individuals show superior performance on sentence processing tasks? Congenitally blind (n = 25) and age and education...
Article
Full-text available
Congenital blindness modifies the neural basis of language: "visual" cortices respond to linguistic information, and fronto-temporal language networks are less left-lateralized. We tested the hypothesis that this plasticity follows a sensitive period by comparing the neural basis of sentence processing between adult-onset blind (AB, n = 16), congen...
Article
How does developmental experience, as opposed to intrinsic physiology, shape cortical function? Naturalistic stimuli were used to elicit neural synchrony in individuals blind from birth (n=18) and those who grew up with sight (n=18). Blind and blindfolded sighted participants passively listened to three audio-movie clips, an auditory narrative, a s...
Article
Full-text available
In Table 1, cause of blindness for some congenitally blind participants was incorrectly labeled as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) rather than Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). Table 1 has been corrected and the authors apologize for this error
Article
Full-text available
How does first-person sensory experience contribute to knowledge? Contrary to the suppositions of early empiricist philosophers, people who are born blind know about phenomena that cannot be perceived directly, such as color and light. Exactly what is learned and how remains an open question. We compared knowledge of animal appearance across congen...
Preprint
Full-text available
In congenital blindness, “visual” cortices respond to linguistic information, and fronto-temporal language networks are less left-lateralized. Does this plasticity follow a sensitive period? We tested this by comparing the neural basis of sentence processing in two experiments with adult-onset blind (AB, n =16), congenitally blind (CB, n =22) and b...
Article
We examined the contribution of first-person sensory experience to concepts by comparing the meanings of perception (visual/tactile) and emission (light/sound) verbs among congenitally blind (N = 25) and sighted speakers (N = 22). Participants judged semantic similarity for pairs of verbs referring to events of visual (e.g. to peek), tactile (e.g....
Preprint
Full-text available
Thinking about numerical quantities is an integral part of daily human life that is supported by the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The IPS is recruited during mathematical calculation and neuronal populations within the IPS code for the quantity of items in a set. Is the developmental basis of IPS number representations rooted in visual experience? W...
Preprint
Sensory loss, such as blindness, is associated with selective improvements in intact senses and repurposing of deafferented “visual” cortex for non-visual functions. Areas within “visual” cortex are active during language tasks and show sensitivity to grammar in congenitally blind adults. Whether this plasticity confers a behavioral benefit is not...
Article
Full-text available
What is the neural organization of the mental lexicon? Previous research suggests that partially distinct cortical networks are active during verb and noun processing, but what information do these networks represent? We used multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) to investigate whether these networks are sensitive to lexicosemantic distinctions among...
Preprint
How does first-person sensory experience contribute to knowledge? Contrary to the suppositions of empiricist philosophers, people who are blind know about phenomena that cannot be perceived directly, such as color and light. Do blind individuals learn about appearance primarily by remembering sighted people’s descriptions of what they see (e.g. “el...
Article
Studies of sensory loss are a model for understanding the functional flexibility of human cortex. In congenital blindness, subsets of visual cortex are recruited during higher-cognitive tasks, such as language and math tasks. Is such dramatic functional repurposing possible throughout the lifespan or restricted to sensitive periods in development?...
Preprint
Full-text available
Studies of sensory loss are a model for understanding the functional flexibility of human cortex. In congenital blindness, subsets of visual cortex are recruited during higher-cognitive tasks, such as language and math tasks. Is such dramatic functional repurposing possible throughout the lifespan or restricted to sensitive periods in development?...
Preprint
Full-text available
How functionally flexible is human cortex? In congenitally blind individuals, visual cortices are active during auditory and tactile tasks. The cognitive role of these responses and the underlying mechanisms remain uncertain. A dominant view is that, in blindness, visual cortices process information from low-level auditory and somatosensory systems...
Preprint
Full-text available
What is the neural organization of the mental lexicon? Previous research suggests that partially distinct cortical networks are active during verb and noun processing. Are these networks preferentially involved in representing the meanings of verbs as opposed to nouns? We used multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) to investigate whether brain regions...
Article
Full-text available
Learning to read causes the development of a letter- and word-selective region known as the visual word form area (VWFA) within the human ventral visual object stream. Why does a reading-selective region develop at this anatomical location? According to one hypothesis, the VWFA develops at the nexus of visual inputs from retinotopic cortices and li...
Article
Numerous theories have been proposed regarding the brain's organization and retrieval of lexical information. Neurophysiological dissociations in processing different word classes, particularly nouns and verbs, have been extensively documented, supporting the contribution of grammatical class to lexical organization. However, the contribution of se...
Article
Language processing depends on a left-lateralized network of frontotemporal cortical regions. This network is remarkably consistent across individuals and cultures. However, there is also evidence that developmental factors, such as delayed exposure to language, can modify this network. Recently, it has been found that, in congenitally blind indivi...
Article
Full-text available
In humans, the ability to reason about mathematical quantities depends on a frontoparietal network that includes the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). How do nature and nurture give rise to the neurobiology of numerical cognition? We asked how visual experience shapes the neural basis of numerical thinking by studying numerical cognition in congenitally...
Article
How do innate predispositions interact with experience to produce functional specialization in the human brain? We address this question by studying the function of V1 in congenitally blind individuals. We first asked whether foveal and peripheral V1 experience different patterns of plasticity in blindness. Second, we asked whether this sub-special...
Poster
Full-text available
Dissociations in brain areas involved in processing different word classes have been extensively documented, in particular for nouns and verbs. However, the properties driving these differences are still unresolved; in particular, which differences can be ascribed to their grammatical properties and which to their semantic properties. Studying subc...
Article
Full-text available
Unlabelled: Human cortex is comprised of specialized networks that support functions, such as visual motion perception and language processing. How do genes and experience contribute to this specialization? Studies of plasticity offer unique insights into this question. In congenitally blind individuals, "visual" cortex responds to auditory and ta...
Article
Numerical processing is considered to be a highly visual capacity. Like other early visual features, numerosity is susceptible to visual adaptation. Numerosity-selective neurons naturally emerge in the dorsal visual stream of monkeys. Math abilities are predicted by both visual numerical estimation abilities and visuospatial abilities. Math calcula...
Article
Full-text available
Unlabelled: Plasticity in the visual cortex of blind individuals provides a rare window into the mechanisms of cortical specialization. In the absence of visual input, occipital ("visual") brain regions respond to sound and spoken language. Here, we examined the time course and developmental mechanism of this plasticity in blind children. Nineteen...
Article
In congenital blindness, the occipital cortex responds to a range of nonvisual inputs, including tactile, auditory, and linguistic stimuli. Are these changes in functional responses to stimuli accompanied by altered interactions with nonvisual functional networks? To answer this question, we introduce a data-driven method that searches across corte...
Article
Blind people's inferences about how other people see provide a window into fundamental questions about the human capacity to think about one another's thoughts. By working with blind individuals, we can ask both what kinds of representations people form about others' minds, and how much these representations depend on the observer having had simila...
Article
What aspects of visual cortex function are intrinsically determined and which are a result of visual experience during the lifespan? I will discuss insights into this question from studies with congenitally and late blind adults as well as children. We find that the visual cortex of individuals who are totally blind from birth acquires novel higher...
Article
Events (e.g., "running" or "eating") constitute a basic type within human cognition and human language. We asked whether thinking about events, as compared to other conceptual categories, depends on partially independent neural circuits. Indirect evidence for this hypothesis comes from previous studies showing elevated posterior temporal responses...
Article
Full-text available
What is the relationship between our perceptual and linguistic neural representations of the same event? We approached this question by asking whether visual perception of motion and understanding linguistic depictions of motion rely on the same neural architecture. The same group of participants took part in two language tasks and one visual task....
Article
Full-text available
Cross-modal plasticity refers to the recruitment of cortical regions involved in the processing of one modality (e.g. vision) for processing other modalities (e.g. audition). The principles determining how and where cross-modal plasticity occurs remain poorly understood. Here, we investigate these principles by testing responses to auditory motion...
Article
Thinking about other people's thoughts recruits a specific group of brain regions, including the temporo-parietal junctions (TPJ), precuneus (PC), and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). The same brain regions were recruited when children (N = 20, 5-11 years) and adults (N = 8) listened to descriptions of characters' mental states, compared to descrip...
Article
Children learn about the world through senses such as touch, smell, vision, and audition, but they conceive of the world in terms of objects, events, agents, and their mental states. A fundamental question in cognitive science is how nature and nurture contribute to the development of such conceptual categories. What innate mechanisms do children b...
Article
Recent evidence suggests that blindness enables visual circuits to contribute to language processing. We examined whether this dramatic functional plasticity has a sensitive period. BOLD fMRI signal was measured in congenitally blind, late blind (blindness onset 9-years-old or later) and sighted participants while they performed a sentence comprehe...
Article
Full-text available
Many empiricist theories hold that concepts are composed of sensory–motor primitives. For example, the meaning of the word “run” is in part a visual image of running. If action concepts are partly visual, then the concepts of congenitally blind individuals should be altered in that they lack these visual features. We compared semantic judgments and...
Article
Among other things, humans talk about what they perceive and do, like "glowing,"hopping," and "squeaking." What is the relationship between our sensory-motor experiences and word meanings? Does understanding action-verbs rely on the same neural circuits as seeing and acting? The available evidence indicates that sensory-motor experience and word me...
Article
Conventional analyses of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data compare the brain's response to stimulus categories (e.g., pictures of faces, stories about beliefs) across participants. In order to infer that effects observed with the specific items (a particular set of pictures or stories) are generalizable to the entire population (all...
Article
Full-text available
Humans are thought to have evolved brain regions in the left frontal and temporal cortex that are uniquely capable of language processing. However, congenitally blind individuals also activate the visual cortex in some verbal tasks. We provide evidence that this visual cortex activity in fact reflects language processing. We find that in congenital...
Article
The middle temporal complex (MT/MST) is a brain region specialized for the perception of motion in the visual modality. However, this specialization is modified by visual experience: after long-standing blindness, MT/MST responds to sound. Recent evidence also suggests that the auditory response of MT/MST is selective for motion. The developmental...
Article
Full-text available
Humans reason about the mental states of others; this capacity is called Theory of Mind (ToM). In typically developing adults, ToM is supported by a consistent group of brain regions: the bilateral temporoparietal junction (TPJ), medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), precuneus (PC), and anterior temporal sulci (aSTS). How experience and intrinsic biolog...
Article
Full-text available
Several regions of the posterior-lateral-temporal cortex (PLTC) are reliably recruited when participants read or listen to action verbs, relative to other word and nonword types. This PLTC activation is generally interpreted as reflecting the retrieval of visual-motion features of actions. This interpretation supports the broader theory, that conce...
Article
Word comprehension engages the left ventrolateral prefrontal (lVLPFC) and posterior lateral-temporal cortices (PLTC). The contributions of these brain regions to comprehension remain controversial. We hypothesized that the PLTC activates meanings, whereas the lVLPFC resolves competition between representations. To test this hypothesis, we used func...
Article
Full-text available
What role does meaning selection play in word comprehension, and what neural systems support this selection process? Most words have multiple meanings and are therefore ambiguous. This is true of both homonymous words (words that have multiple unrelated meanings) and polysemous words (words that have multiple related meanings). The extant evidence...
Article
Behavioral and neuroimaging studies of cognition frequently test hypotheses regarding mental processing of different stimulus categories (e.g. verbs, faces, animals, scenes, etc.). The conclusions of such studies hinge upon the generalizability of their findings from the specific stimuli used in the experiment to the category as a whole. This type...
Article
The present study characterizes the neural correlates of noun and verb imageability and addresses the question of whether components of the neural network supporting word recognition can be separately modified by variations in grammatical class and imageability. We examined the effect of imageability on BOLD signal during single-word comprehension...
Article
Although we perceive words as having a single meaning, most words have multiple meanings and are interpreted in different ways depending on the context. This is true of homonymous words (having multiple unrelated meanings), and polysemous words (having multiple related meanings). For example, the homonymous words "organ" can refer to a part of the...
Article
Results of neuroimaging and neuropsychological studies of frontal lobe function have been interpreted by some as evidence for specialized modules that are localized to distinct regions of frontal cortex, and that differ in both content and process from those in neighboring regions. These descriptions stand in stark contrast to the many domain-gener...
Article
Activity theory has an extensive history in the Soviet Union dating back to the works of Vygotsky and his followers. Activity (or "deyatel'nost" in Russian) refers to a coherent system of internal mental processes and external behaviors and motivations that are combined and organized by the mechanisms of self-regulation to achieve a conscious goal....
Article
Full-text available
What are concepts made of? One prominent theory assumes that concepts are comprised of sensory-motor features distributed throughout the sensory-motor cortices. For example, the meaning of the word "kick" is partially represented in the visual motion regions that are activated during the observation of kicking. This theory makes specific prediction...

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