Visual cortex recruitment during language processing in blind individuals is explained by Hebbian learning View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2019-03-05

AUTHORS

Rosario Tomasello, Thomas Wennekers, Max Garagnani, Friedemann Pulvermüller

ABSTRACT

In blind people, the visual cortex takes on higher cognitive functions, including language. Why this functional reorganisation mechanistically emerges at the neuronal circuit level is still unclear. Here, we use a biologically constrained network model implementing features of anatomical structure, neurophysiological function and connectivity of fronto-temporal-occipital areas to simulate word-meaning acquisition in visually deprived and undeprived brains. We observed that, only under visual deprivation, distributed word-related neural circuits ‘grew into’ the deprived visual areas, which therefore adopted a linguistic-semantic role. Three factors are crucial for explaining this deprivation-related growth: changes in the network’s activity balance brought about by the absence of uncorrelated sensory input, the connectivity structure of the network, and Hebbian correlation learning. In addition, the blind model revealed long-lasting spiking neural activity compared to the sighted model during word recognition, which is a neural correlate of enhanced verbal working memory. The present neurocomputational model offers a neurobiological account for neural changes following sensory deprivation, thus closing the gap between cellular-level mechanisms, system-level linguistic and semantic function. More... »

PAGES

3579

References to SciGraph publications

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  • Identifiers

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    http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/s41598-019-39864-1

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    http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39864-1

    DIMENSIONS

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    PUBMED

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30837569


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    38 schema:description In blind people, the visual cortex takes on higher cognitive functions, including language. Why this functional reorganisation mechanistically emerges at the neuronal circuit level is still unclear. Here, we use a biologically constrained network model implementing features of anatomical structure, neurophysiological function and connectivity of fronto-temporal-occipital areas to simulate word-meaning acquisition in visually deprived and undeprived brains. We observed that, only under visual deprivation, distributed word-related neural circuits ‘grew into’ the deprived visual areas, which therefore adopted a linguistic-semantic role. Three factors are crucial for explaining this deprivation-related growth: changes in the network’s activity balance brought about by the absence of uncorrelated sensory input, the connectivity structure of the network, and Hebbian correlation learning. In addition, the blind model revealed long-lasting spiking neural activity compared to the sighted model during word recognition, which is a neural correlate of enhanced verbal working memory. The present neurocomputational model offers a neurobiological account for neural changes following sensory deprivation, thus closing the gap between cellular-level mechanisms, system-level linguistic and semantic function.
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    45 absence
    46 account
    47 acquisition
    48 activity
    49 activity balance
    50 addition
    51 anatomical structures
    52 area
    53 balance
    54 blind individuals
    55 blind model
    56 blind people
    57 brain
    58 cellular-level mechanisms
    59 changes
    60 circuit
    61 circuit level
    62 cognitive function
    63 connectivity
    64 connectivity structure
    65 correlates
    66 correlation
    67 cortex
    68 deprivation
    69 factors
    70 features
    71 function
    72 functional reorganisation
    73 gap
    74 growth
    75 higher cognitive functions
    76 individuals
    77 input
    78 language
    79 language processing
    80 learning
    81 levels
    82 mechanism
    83 memory
    84 model
    85 network
    86 network model
    87 neural activity
    88 neural changes
    89 neural circuits
    90 neural correlates
    91 neurobiological accounts
    92 neurocomputational model
    93 neuronal circuit level
    94 neurophysiological functions
    95 occipital areas
    96 people
    97 processing
    98 recognition
    99 recruitment
    100 reorganisation
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    103 sensory deprivation
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