Vibration-induced auditory-cortex activation in a congenitally deaf adult

Curr Biol. 1998 Jul 16;8(15):869-72. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(07)00348-x.


Considerable changes take place in the number of cerebral neurons, synapses and axons during development, mainly as a result of competition between different neural activities [1-4]. Studies using animals suggest that when input from one sensory modality is deprived early in development, the affected neural structures have the potential to mediate functions for the remaining modalities [5-8]. We now show that similar potential exists in the human auditory system: vibrotactile stimuli, applied on the palm and fingers of a congenitally deaf adult, activated his auditory cortices. The recorded magnetoencephalographic (MEG) signals also indicated that the auditory cortices were able to discriminate between the applied 180 Hz and 250 Hz vibration frequencies. Our findings suggest that human cortical areas, normally subserving hearing, may process vibrotactile information in the congenitally deaf.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Deafness / congenital*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Vibration