Interplay between heightened temporal variability of spontaneous brain activity and task-evoked hyperactivation in the blind

Rui Dai, Zirui Huang, Huihui Tu, Luoyu Wang, Sean Tanabe, Xuchu Weng, Sheng He, Dongfeng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The brain’s functional organization can be altered by visual deprivation. This is observed by comparing blind and sighted people’s activation response to tactile discrimination tasks, like braille reading. Where, the blind have higher activation than the sighted upon tactile discrimination tasks, especially high activation difference is seen in ventral occipitotemporal (vOT) cortex. However, it remains unknown, whether this vOT hyperactivation is related to alteration of spontaneous activity. To address this question, we examined 16 blind subjects, 19 low-vision individuals, and 21 normally sighted controls using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Subjects were scanned in resting-state and discrimination tactile task. In spontaneous activity, when compared to sighted subjects, we found both blind and low vision subjects had increased local signal synchronization and increased temporal variability. During tactile tasks, compared to sighted subjects, blind and low-vision subject’s vOT had stronger tactile task-induced activation. Furthermore, through inter-subject partial correlation analysis, we found temporal variability is more related to tactile-task activation, than local signal synchronization’s relation to tactile-induced activation. Our results further support that vision impairment induces vOT cortical reorganization. The hyperactivation in the vOT during tactile stimulus processing in the blind may be related to their greater dynamic range of spontaneous activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number632
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberDEC2016
StatePublished - Dec 20 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (No. 31371134 to XW, No. 31172092 to DL) and National Social Science Foundation of China (No. 11AZD119 to XW).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Dai, Huang, Tu, Wang, Tanabe, Weng, He and Li.


  • Blind
  • FMRI
  • Spontaneous brain activity
  • Temporal variability
  • Ventral occipitotemporal cortex
  • Visual deprivation

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