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Expansion of the tonotopic area in the auditory cortex of the blind

By T Elbert, Annette Sterr, B Rockstroh, C Pantev, MM Muller and E Taub


A part of the core area of the auditory cortex was examined in nine blind and10 sighted individuals by magnetic source imaging and was found to be enlarged by a factor of 1.8 in the blind compared with the sighted humans. Moreover, the latency of the N1m component of the auditory-evoked magnetic response was significantly decreased in the blind. The development of use-dependent cortical reorganization may be a consequence of the absence of visual input in combination with enhanced auditory activity generated by the long-term concentration by blind individuals on nonvisual cues to interact appropriately with the environment. It is consistent with and well suited to mediate the demonstrated increased ability of the blind to accurately localize acoustic sources in peripheral auditory fields and to decode speech

Year: 2002
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