Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the visual cortex induces somatotopically organized qualia in blind subjects

Ron Kupers, Arnaud Fumal, Alain Maertens De Noordhout, Albert Gjedde, Jean Schoenen, Maurice Ptito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

After loss of a particular sensory channel, the deprived cortex can be activated by inputs from other sensory modalities. It is not known whether activation of the rewired cortex evokes subjective experiences characteristic of that cortex or consistent with the rerouted sensory information. In a previous study, blind subjects were trained to perform visual tasks with a tongue display unit, a sensory substitution device that translates visual displays into electrotactile tongue stimulation. This cross-modal sensory stimulation activated their visual cortices. We now extend this finding by using transcranial magnetic stimulation to examine the perceptual correlates of training-induced plastic responses. We find that blind subjects proficient with the use of the tongue display unit report somatopically organized tactile sensations that are referred to the tongue when transcranial magnetic stimulation is applied over the occipital cortex. No such sensations were evoked in trained, blind-folded, seeing control subjects who performed the sensory substitution task equally well. These data show that the perceptual correlate of activity in a given cortical area reflects the characteristics of its novel sensory input source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13256-13260
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume103
Issue number35
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 29 2006
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Visual Cortex
Tongue
Occipital Lobe
Touch
Plastics
Equipment and Supplies

Keywords

  • Blindness
  • Cross-modal plasticity
  • Rewiring
  • Sensation
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General

Cite this

Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the visual cortex induces somatotopically organized qualia in blind subjects. / Kupers, Ron; Fumal, Arnaud; De Noordhout, Alain Maertens; Gjedde, Albert; Schoenen, Jean; Ptito, Maurice.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 103, No. 35, 29.08.2006, p. 13256-13260.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kupers, Ron ; Fumal, Arnaud ; De Noordhout, Alain Maertens ; Gjedde, Albert ; Schoenen, Jean ; Ptito, Maurice. / Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the visual cortex induces somatotopically organized qualia in blind subjects. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2006 ; Vol. 103, No. 35. pp. 13256-13260.
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