The neurodynamics of letter processing in blind and sighted readers
Past Event Date:
Room 204 - Main Conference Room
Braille, a tactile reading modality for blind readers, is a major neuroscientific model to probe crossmodal plasticity. However, the functional dynamics (how the information represented changes over time) of the processing network in blind readers remain poorly understood. Therefore, the goal of this work is to track the representational trajectory of tactile braille signals as they propagate through the cortical processing stream. We applied multivariate decoding and representational similarity analysis to magnetoencephalography (MEG) recordings of brain responses to braille letters presented via refreshable display. The results show that the MEG response is qualitatively different from analogous visual processing and that the signal is consistent with low-level tactile as well as semantic representations. Understanding the time course of braille processing will illuminate not only the foundational architecture of neural systems, but could inform how training and other interventions are designed and evaluated. Finally, in addition to this past and ongoing work, I will discuss how the methods presented here are applicable to current and future ongoing work at Smith-Kettlewell.