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Journal Article

Working memory training integrates visual cortex into beta-band networks in congenitally bind individuals

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Rimmele,  Johanna Maria
Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Rimmele, J. M., Gudi-Mindermann, H., Nolte, G., Roeder, B., & Engel, K. A. (2019). Working memory training integrates visual cortex into beta-band networks in congenitally bind individuals. NeuroImage, 194, 259-271. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.03.003.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-6C57-3
Abstract
Congenitally blind individuals have been shown to activate the visual cortex during non-visual tasks. The neuronal mechanisms of such cross-modal activation are not fully understood. Here, we used an auditory working memory training paradigm in congenitally blind and in sighted adults. We hypothesized that the visual cortex gets integrated into auditory working memory networks, after these networks have been challenged by training. The spectral profile of functional networks was investigated which mediate cross-modal reorganization following visual deprivation. A training induced integration of visual cortex into task-related networks in congenitally blind individuals was expected to result in changes in long-range functional connectivity in the theta-, beta- and gamma band (imaginary coherency) between visual cortex and working memory networks. Magnetoencephalographic data were recorded in congenitally blind and sighted individuals during resting state as well as during a voicebased working memory task; the task was performed before and after working memory training with either auditory or tactile stimuli, or a control condition. Auditory working memory training strengthened theta-band (2.5–5 Hz) connectivity in the sighted and beta-band (17.5–22.5 Hz) connectivity in the blind. In sighted participants, theta-band connectivity increased between brain areas typically involved in auditory working memory (inferior frontal, superior temporal, insular cortex). In blind participants, beta-band networks largely emerged during the training, and connectivity increased between brain areas involved in auditory working memory and as predicted, the visual cortex. Our findings highlight long-range connectivity as a key mechanism of functional reorganization following congenital blindness, and provide new insights into the spectral characteristics of functional network connectivity.