Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11, 44-52 (January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nrn2758

Neural reorganization following sensory loss: the opportunity of change

Lotfi B. Merabet1 & Alvaro Pascual-Leone1  About the authors


There is growing evidence that sensory deprivation is associated with crossmodal neuroplastic changes in the brain. After visual or auditory deprivation, brain areas that are normally associated with the lost sense are recruited by spared sensory modalities. These changes underlie adaptive and compensatory behaviours in blind and deaf individuals. Although there are differences between these populations owing to the nature of the deprived sensory modality, there seem to be common principles regarding how the brain copes with sensory loss and the factors that influence neuroplastic changes. Here, we discuss crossmodal neuroplasticity with regards to behavioural adaptation after sensory deprivation and highlight the possibility of maladaptive consequences within the context of rehabilitation.

Author affiliations

  1. Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, KS-158 Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.

Correspondence to: Lotfi B. Merabet1 Email:

Published online 25 November 2009


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