Tokyoflash Treasure Hunt - Win a Tokyoflash Watch of Your Choice!
Going on right now: Tokyoflash Treasure Hunt #26. Win a Tokyoflash watch and neat stuff from the NeatoShop. It's fun and easy to play: Link

The Human Visual Cortex Can Do Language, Too

Brain scanning technology is teaching us how very versatile or brains are. For example, what is happening in the visual cortices of people who have been blind since birth? A series of experiments in which blind subjects were monitored while performing different linguistic exercises show that those parts of our brains are put to work for other tasks!
In the brains of people blind from birth, structures used in sight are still put to work — but for a very different purpose. Rather than processing visual information, they appear to handle language.

Linguistic processing is a task utterly unrelated to sight, yet the visual cortex performs it well.

“It suggests a kind of plasticity that’s even broader than the kinds observed before,” said Marina Bedny, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s a really drastic change. It suggests there isn’t a predetermined function an area can serve. It can take a wide range of possible functions.”

Brains: use 'em if you got 'em! Link

Newest 4
Newest 4 Comments

Neural plasticity ftw! I remember reading somewhere about the language areas in the brains of the deaf who use sign language. There's activity in both the left language hemisphere, and in the right visuospatial; and that's pretty darn neat.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
@Ryan S, agreed. All regions of the brain are responsible for all human functions to a degree, with certain functions dominating in different areas. When the brain experiences trauma or we lose a function, it is amazing how the brain can either compensate with different areas of the brain, or create new functions for particular areas through neural plasticity.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Jessss is correct, however, the neuroplasticity of the brain is best thought (IMHO) of in the context of neuro- and synapto-genesis and the subsequent pruning process. Nerve cells, by and large could do anything, but the cells closest to the auditory nerves tend to make up those regions processing speech. The same is true of the visual cortex, except that the ocular nerves project through the Superior Colliculus (Thalamus) to the Occipital Lobe in the back of the brain, opposite of the eyes. The nerve cells there, are closest to the ocular nerves, and not necessarily the organs from which they receive their inputs. Most of the brain is fairly homogenious in it's functional capabilities and depends on what stimuli is contiguous with it. Cheers.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
If visual input is entirely denied during an animal's visual sensitive period (in human's it's up to approx. 2.4 years, and 24 days or so in cats), then they will never be able to see as the brain will have eliminated the neural connections required to perform such perceptual feats.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.





Check out Twaggies' first animated clip:

Grammar Nazi's Rock? Twaggies by twaggies
Email This Post to a Friend
"The Human Visual Cortex Can Do Language, Too"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window