To date, the extent to which early experience shapes the functional characteristics of neural circuits is still a matter of debate. In the present study, we tested whether congenital deafness and/or the acquisition of a sign language alter the temporal processing characteristics of the visual system. Moreover, we investigated whether, assuming cross-modal plasticity in deaf individuals, the temporal processing characteristics of possibly reorganised auditory areas resemble those of the visual cortex. Steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) were recorded in congenitally deaf native signers, hearing native signers, and hearing nonsigners. The luminance of the visual stimuli was periodically modulated at 12, 21, and 40 Hz. For hearing nonsigners, the optimal driving rate was 12 Hz. By contrast, for the group of hearing signers, the optimal driving rate was 12 and 21 Hz, whereas for the group of deaf signers, the optimal driving rate was 21 Hz. We did not observe evidence for cross-modal recruitment of auditory cortex in the group of deaf signers. These results suggest a higher preferred neural processing rate as a consequence of the acquisition of a sign language.

Developmental experiences alter the temporal processing characteristics of the visual cortex: Evidence from deaf and hearing native signers

Bottari D.;
2022

Abstract

To date, the extent to which early experience shapes the functional characteristics of neural circuits is still a matter of debate. In the present study, we tested whether congenital deafness and/or the acquisition of a sign language alter the temporal processing characteristics of the visual system. Moreover, we investigated whether, assuming cross-modal plasticity in deaf individuals, the temporal processing characteristics of possibly reorganised auditory areas resemble those of the visual cortex. Steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) were recorded in congenitally deaf native signers, hearing native signers, and hearing nonsigners. The luminance of the visual stimuli was periodically modulated at 12, 21, and 40 Hz. For hearing nonsigners, the optimal driving rate was 12 Hz. By contrast, for the group of hearing signers, the optimal driving rate was 12 and 21 Hz, whereas for the group of deaf signers, the optimal driving rate was 21 Hz. We did not observe evidence for cross-modal recruitment of auditory cortex in the group of deaf signers. These results suggest a higher preferred neural processing rate as a consequence of the acquisition of a sign language.
deaf
intramodal plasticity
sign language
steady-state visual evoked potentials
visual processing
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11771/20717
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