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  • 2022-12-05

Individual differences of brain plasticity in early visual deprivation and sight restoration

Early-onset blindness leads to reorganization in visual cortex connectivity and function. However, this has mostly been studied at the group-level, largely ignoring differences in brain reorganization across early blind individuals. In this talk, I will present resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) in a large cohort of blind individuals that shows that reorganization is not ubiquitous, highlighting the important role for sensory experience during development for driving individual differences. Importantly, this variability is linked to life experiences: longer formal education duration correlated with higher connectivity of the primary visual cortex (V1) and the left frontal cortex, suggesting its role in visual cortex cognitive takeover. Building on these findings, our more recent work explored if variability in reorganization in the early blind may affect the capacity to benefit from sight-restoring treatment. I will present longitudinal data on children who first gain sight in their early adolescence, showing that RSFC correlates of sight restoration suggest that plasticity to visual networks from V1 is possible, even when high acuity sight begins well past the visual canonical critical periods. Importantly, I will discuss how such plasticity varies across individuals, and how preoperative RSFC might be useful to predict visual acuity outcomes of treatment. Overall, our data highlight the diversity in brain plasticity and the importance of harnessing individual differences for fitting rehabilitation approaches for vision loss.

Link to complete publication here: https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=view_citation&hl=en&user=dqpMNRUAAAAJ&cstart=20&pagesize=80&citation_for_view=dqpMNRUAAAAJ:JV2RwH3_ST0C

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