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Abstract #0579

Top Down Influence on the Visual Cortex of the Blind During Auditory Sensory Substitution

Matthew C. Murphy 1,2 , Christopher Fisher 1 , Seong-Gi Kim 2,3 , Joel S. Schuman 1 , Amy C. Nau 1 , and Kevin C. Chan 1,2

1 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 2 Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 3 Center for Neuroscience Imaging Research, Department of Biological Sciences, SKKU, Suwon, Korea

Blind persons may acquire visual perception indirectly using sensory substitution devices. One such device (The vOICe) converts images to auditory soundscapes. To examine the effect of top down input on the processing of soundscapes in the visual cortex, we scanned sighted and blind subjects both immediately before and immediately after training them to interpret the soundscapes as images. Significant negative BOLD responses were observed in the visual cortex of sighted subjects in both conditions. This negative response is absent in blind subjects before training. Furthermore, the BOLD response becomes significantly positive after training indicating of a significant top down influence.

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