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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Beyond visual, aural and haptic movement perception: hMT+ is activated by electrotactile motion stimulation of the tongue in sighted and in congenitally blind individuals

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  • Isabelle Matteau
  • Ron Kupers
  • Emiliano Ricciardi
  • Pietro Pietrini
  • Maurice Ptito
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The motion-sensitive middle temporal cortex (hMT+ complex) responds also to non-visual motion stimulation conveyed through the tactile and auditory modalities, both in sighted and in congenitally blind individuals. This indicates that hMT+ is truly responsive to motion-related information regardless of visual experience and the sensory modality through which such information is carried to the brain. Here we determined whether the hMT+ complex responds to motion perception per se, that is, motion not perceived through the visual, haptic or aural modalities. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated brain responses in eight congenitally blind and nine sighted volunteers who had been trained to use the tongue display unit (TDU), a sensory substitution device which converts visual information into electrotactile pulses delivered to the tongue, to resolve a tactile motion discrimination task. Stimuli consisted of either static dots, dots moving coherently or dots moving in random directions. Both groups learned the task at the same rate and activated the hMT+ complex during tactile motion discrimination, although at different anatomical locations. Furthermore, the congenitally blind subjects showed additional activations within the dorsal extrastriate cortical pathway. These results extend previous data in support of the supramodal functional organization of hMT+ complex by showing that this cortical area processes motion-related information per se, that is, motion stimuli that are not visual in nature and that are administered to body structures that, in humans, are not primarily devoted to movement perception or spatial location, such as the tongue. In line with previous studies, the differential activations between sighted and congenitally blind individuals indicate that lack of vision leads to functional rearrangements of these supramodal cortical areas.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Volume82
Issue number5-6
Pages (from-to)264-70
Number of pages7
ISSN0361-9230
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2010

ID: 31035751