Changed perceptions in Braille readers

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Abstract

The mature mammalian nervous system has a striking capacity for plastic remodelling in response to environmental changes, but little is known about the perceptual and behavioural relevance of this phenomenon. Using magnetic source imaging we show that the cortical somatosensory representation of the fingers is topographically disordered in blind Braille readers who use three fingers on both hands to read. In addition, they frequently misperceive which of these fingers is being touched. This correlation is suggestive of a functional role for cortical reorganization in the perceptual experience of these individuals.

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Figure 1: Distances between centres of cortical responsivity: D1, thumb; D2, index finger; D5, little finger.

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