Rehabilitation strategies of blind and deaf individuals should take into consideration the changes in structure and function in the brain following sensory loss, according to an article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Lotfi B. Merabet and Alvaro Pascual-Leone assess the evidence of the changes that take place in the brains of animals and humans following visual and/or auditory deprivation and establish common principles regarding how the brain copes with sensory loss. The authors also examine the factors that influence these changes and the implications for rehabilitation.
The brain's remarkable ability to adapt to sensory loss enables blind and deaf individuals to interact effectively within their environment. As a result of sensory deprivation, some of the functional and structural changes that take place lead to crucial advantages, such as enhanced localization of sound sources and improved verbal memory in the blind and enhanced visual peripheral sensitivity in the deaf. However, these changes may also alter the brain's ability to process the missing sense and will affect rehabilitation attempts aimed at restoring the lost sensory function.
Lotfi B. Merabet (Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Reviews Neuroscience press release.
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