3 years ago

Plastic reorganization of neural systems for perception of others in the congenitally blind

Recent evidence suggests that the function of the core system for face perception might extend beyond visual face-perception to a broader role in person perception. To critically test the broader role of core face-system in person perception, we examined the role of the core system during the perception of others in 7 congenitally blind individuals and 15 sighted subjects by measuring their neural responses using fMRI while they listened to voices and performed identity and emotion recognition tasks. We hypothesised that in people who have had no visual experience of faces, core face-system areas may assume a role in the perception of others via voices. Results showed that emotions conveyed by voices can be decoded in homologues of the core face system only in the blind. Moreover, there was a specific enhancement of response to verbal as compared to non-verbal stimuli in bilateral fusiform face areas and the right posterior superior temporal sulcus showing that the core system also assumes some language-related functions in the blind. These results indicate that, in individuals with no history of visual experience, areas of the core system for face perception may assume a role in aspects of voice perception that are relevant to social cognition and perception of others' emotions.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1053811917305281

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