2 April 2015 Temporal evolution of brain reorganization under cross-modal training: insights into the functional architecture of encoding and retrieval networks
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Abstract
This study is based on the recent discovery of massive and well-structured cross-modal memory activation generated in the primary visual cortex (V1) of totally blind people as a result of novel training in drawing without any vision (Likova, 2012). This unexpected functional reorganization of primary visual cortex was obtained after undergoing only a week of training by the novel Cognitive-Kinesthetic Method, and was consistent across pilot groups of different categories of visual deprivation: congenitally blind, late-onset blind and blindfolded (Likova, 2014). These findings led us to implicate V1 as the implementation of the theoretical visuo-spatial ‗sketchpad‗ for working memory in the human brain. Since neither the source nor the subsequent ‗recipient‘ of this non-visual memory information in V1 is known, these results raise a number of important questions about the underlying functional organization of the respective encoding and retrieval networks in the brain. To address these questions, an individual totally blind from birth was given a week of Cognitive-Kinesthetic training, accompanied by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) both before and just after training, and again after a two-month consolidation period. The results revealed a remarkable temporal sequence of training-based response reorganization in both the hippocampal complex and the temporal-lobe object processing hierarchy over the prolonged consolidation period. In particular, a pattern of profound learning-based transformations in the hippocampus was strongly reflected in V1, with the retrieval function showing massive growth as result of the Cognitive-Kinesthetic memory training and consolidation, while the initially strong hippocampal response during tactile exploration and encoding became non-existent. Furthermore, after training, an alternating patch structure in the form of a cascade of discrete ventral regions underwent radical transformations to reach complete functional specialization in terms of either encoding or retrieval as a function of the stage of learning. Moreover, several distinct patterns of learning-evolution within the patches as a function of their anatomical location, implying a complex reorganization of the object processing sub-networks through the learning period. These first findings of complex patterns of training-based encoding/retrieval reorganization thus have broad implications for a newly emerging view of the perception/memory interactions and their reorganization through the learning process. Note that the temporal evolution of these forms of extended functional reorganization could not be uncovered with conventional assessment paradigms used in the traditional approaches to functional mapping, which may therefore have to be revisited. Moreover, as the present results are obtained in learning under life-long blindness, they imply modality-independent operations, transcending the usual tight association with visual processing. The present approach of memory drawing training in blindness, has the dual-advantage of being both non-visual and causal intervention, which makes it a promising ‗scalpel‘ to disentangle interactions among diverse cognitive functions.
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Lora T. Likova, "Temporal evolution of brain reorganization under cross-modal training: insights into the functional architecture of encoding and retrieval networks", Proc. SPIE 9394, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging XX, 939417 (2 April 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2178069; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2178069
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