Cross-modal learning requires the use of information from different sensory modalities. This study investigated how the prior visual experience of late blind individuals could modulate neural processes associated with learning of sound localization. Learning was realized by standardized training on sound localization processing, and experience was investigated by comparing brain activations elicited from a sound localization task in individuals with (late blind, LB) and without (early blind, EB) prior visual experience. After the training, EB showed decreased activation in the precuneus, which was functionally connected to a limbic-multisensory network. In contrast, LB showed the increased activation of the precuneus. A subgroup of LB participants who demonstrated higher visuospatial working memory capabilities (LB-HVM) exhibited an enhanced precuneus-lingual gyrus network. This differential connectivity suggests that visuospatial working memory due to the prior visual experience gained via LB-HVM enhanced learning of sound localization. Active visuospatial navigation processes could have occurred in LB-HVM compared to the retrieval of previously bound information from long-term memory for EB. The precuneus appears to play a crucial role in learning of sound localization, disregarding prior visual experience. Prior visual experience, however, could enhance cross-modal learning by extending binding to the integration of unprocessed information, mediated by the cognitive functions that these experiences develop. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s).
CitationTao, Q., Chan, C. C. H., Luo, Y.-J., Li, J.-J., Ting, K.-H., Lu, Z.-L., . . . Lee, T. M. C. (2017). Prior visual experience modulates learning of sound localization among blind individuals. Brain Topography, 30, 364-379. doi: 10.1007/s10548-017-0549-z
- Experience modulation
- Functional connectivity
- Sound localization