Neural networks for Braille reading by the blind

Norihiro Sadato, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Jordan Grafman, Marie Pierre Deiber, Vicente Ibañez, Mark Hallett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

257 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To explore the neural networks used for Braille reading, we measured regional cerebral blood flow with PET during tactile tasks performed both by Braille readers blinded early in life and by sighted subjects. Eight proficient Braille readers were studied during Braille reading with both right and left index fingers. Eight-character, non-contracted Braille-letter strings were used, and subjects were asked to discriminate between words and non-words. To compare the behaviour of the brain of the blind and the sighted directly, non-Braille tactile tasks were performed by six different blind subjects and 10 sighted control subjects using the right index finger. The tasks included a non-discrimination task and three discrimination tasks (angle, width and character). Irrespective of reading finger (right or left), Braille reading by the blind activated the inferior parietal lobule, primary visual cortex, superior occipital gyri, fusiform gyri, ventral premotor area, superior parietal lobule, cerebellum and primary sensorimotor area bilaterally, also the right dorsal premotor cortex, right middle occipital gyrus and right prefrontal area. During non-Braille discrimination tasks, in blind subjects, the ventral occipital regions, including the primary visual cortex and fusiform gyri bilaterally were activated while the secondary somatosensory area was deactivated. The reverse pattern was found in sighted subjects where the secondary somatosensory area was activated while the ventral occipital regions were suppressed. These findings suggest that the tactile processing pathways usually linked in the secondary somatosensory area are rerouted in blind subjects to the ventral occipital cortical regions originally reserved for visual shape discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1213-1229
Number of pages17
JournalBrain
Volume121
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 27 1998

Fingerprint

Occipital Lobe
Reading
Somatosensory Cortex
Touch
Fingers
Parietal Lobe
Motor Cortex
Visual Cortex
Temporal Lobe
Cerebrovascular Circulation
Regional Blood Flow
Cerebellum
Brain

Keywords

  • Blind
  • Braille
  • Multimodal plasticity
  • PET
  • Visual cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this

Sadato, N., Pascual-Leone, A., Grafman, J., Deiber, M. P., Ibañez, V., & Hallett, M. (1998). Neural networks for Braille reading by the blind. Brain, 121(7), 1213-1229. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/121.7.1213
Sadato, Norihiro ; Pascual-Leone, Alvaro ; Grafman, Jordan ; Deiber, Marie Pierre ; Ibañez, Vicente ; Hallett, Mark. / Neural networks for Braille reading by the blind. In: Brain. 1998 ; Vol. 121, No. 7. pp. 1213-1229.
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Sadato, N, Pascual-Leone, A, Grafman, J, Deiber, MP, Ibañez, V & Hallett, M 1998, 'Neural networks for Braille reading by the blind', Brain, vol. 121, no. 7, pp. 1213-1229. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/121.7.1213

Neural networks for Braille reading by the blind. / Sadato, Norihiro; Pascual-Leone, Alvaro; Grafman, Jordan; Deiber, Marie Pierre; Ibañez, Vicente; Hallett, Mark.

In: Brain, Vol. 121, No. 7, 27.07.1998, p. 1213-1229.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Neural networks for Braille reading by the blind

AU - Sadato, Norihiro

AU - Pascual-Leone, Alvaro

AU - Grafman, Jordan

AU - Deiber, Marie Pierre

AU - Ibañez, Vicente

AU - Hallett, Mark

PY - 1998/7/27

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N2 - To explore the neural networks used for Braille reading, we measured regional cerebral blood flow with PET during tactile tasks performed both by Braille readers blinded early in life and by sighted subjects. Eight proficient Braille readers were studied during Braille reading with both right and left index fingers. Eight-character, non-contracted Braille-letter strings were used, and subjects were asked to discriminate between words and non-words. To compare the behaviour of the brain of the blind and the sighted directly, non-Braille tactile tasks were performed by six different blind subjects and 10 sighted control subjects using the right index finger. The tasks included a non-discrimination task and three discrimination tasks (angle, width and character). Irrespective of reading finger (right or left), Braille reading by the blind activated the inferior parietal lobule, primary visual cortex, superior occipital gyri, fusiform gyri, ventral premotor area, superior parietal lobule, cerebellum and primary sensorimotor area bilaterally, also the right dorsal premotor cortex, right middle occipital gyrus and right prefrontal area. During non-Braille discrimination tasks, in blind subjects, the ventral occipital regions, including the primary visual cortex and fusiform gyri bilaterally were activated while the secondary somatosensory area was deactivated. The reverse pattern was found in sighted subjects where the secondary somatosensory area was activated while the ventral occipital regions were suppressed. These findings suggest that the tactile processing pathways usually linked in the secondary somatosensory area are rerouted in blind subjects to the ventral occipital cortical regions originally reserved for visual shape discrimination.

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Sadato N, Pascual-Leone A, Grafman J, Deiber MP, Ibañez V, Hallett M. Neural networks for Braille reading by the blind. Brain. 1998 Jul 27;121(7):1213-1229. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/121.7.1213