Previous studies report that human middle temporal complex (hMT+) is sensitive to auditory motion in early-blind individuals. Here, we show that hMT+ also develops selectivity for auditory frequency after early blindness, and that this selectivity is maintained after sight recovery in adulthood. Frequency selectivity was assessed using both moving band-pass and stationary pure-tone stimuli. As expected, within primary auditory cortex, both moving and stationary stimuli successfully elicited frequency-selective responses, organized in a tonotopic map, for all subjects. In early-blind and sight-recovery subjects, we saw evidence for frequency selectivity within hMT+ for the auditory stimulus that contained motion. We did not find frequency-tuned responses within hMT+ when using the stationary stimulus in either early-blind or sight-recovery subjects. We saw no evidence for auditory frequency selectivity in hMT+ in sighted subjects using either stimulus. Thus, after early blindness, hMT+ can exhibit selectivity for auditory frequency. Remarkably, this auditory frequency tuning persists in two adult sight-recovery subjects, showing that, in these subjects, auditory frequency-tuned responses can coexist with visually driven responses in hMT+.
Keywords: blindness; plasticity; sensory systems; sight recovery; visual cortex.