Occipital cortex activation by long-term repetitive tactile stimulation is necessary for object recognition in blinds: A case report

Tomás Ortiz, Joaquín Poch, Juan M. Santos, Ana M. Martínez, Laura Ortiz-Terán, Carmen Requena, Juan A. Barcia, Gabriel A. de Erausquin, Alvaro Pascual-Leone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Tactile vision has been approached from a variety of angles using different techniques. So far, a certain kind of object (and text) recognition has been shown, though seeing as such has not been achieved yet, and it remains unclear. Trough repetitive passive tactile stimulation perceptual processing is transferred from temporo-parietal to occipital areas, which affects object recognition. We report the results of passive tactile stimulation, as well as rTMS, applied to a 50 year old left handed blind male with over 97% loss of vision, who suffers from Peter's anomaly and microphthalmia. After 15 weeks of passive tactile stimulation, the subject showed increased activity in occipital areas associated with the development of visual-like perception which remained unchanged after three months without passive tactile stimulation. Inhibitory rTMS over the visual cortex led to noticeable reduction of spatial recognition performance and visual sensations in this subject. Stable changes in occipital cortical activity can be associated with subjective sensations of seeing. Once occipital activation has been achieved, it is necessary for spatial object recognition. Both facts highlight the implication of occipital areas in tactile vision and the cortical plasticity of passive tactile long-term stimulation in people with blindness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-282
Number of pages10
JournalNeurocase
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Blind
  • Cortical plasticity
  • ERP
  • Passive tactile stimulation
  • rTMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology

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