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Intrinsic functional reorganisation of the attention network in the blind

By Wen Qin, Yong Liu, Tianzi Jiang, Chunshui Yu

Posted 29 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/245399

Attention can bias visual perception by modulating the neuronal activity of visual areas. However, little is known if blindness can reshape the intrinsic functional organisation within the attention networks and between the attention and visual networks. A voxel-wise network-based functional connectivity strengthen mapping analysis was proposed to thirty congenitally, thirty early and thirty late blind subjects, and thirty sighted controls. Both the blind and sighted subjects exhibited similar spatial distributions of the intrinsic dorsal (DAN) and ventral (VAN) attention networks. Moreover, compared to the sighted controls, the blind subjects showed increased functional coupling within the DAN, and between the DAN and VAN, and between the attention sub-networks and visual areas, suggesting an increased information communication by visual deprivation. However, the onset age of blindness had little impact on the functional coupling of the attention network, indicating that non-visual sensory experience is enough for driving the development of intrinsic functional organization of the attention network. Finally, a positive correlation was identified between the duration of blindness and the functional coupling of the posterior inferior frontal gyrus with the visual network, representing an experience-dependent reorganisation after visual deprivation.

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