Petra Vetter, Łukasz Bola, Lior Reich, Matthew Bennett, Lars Muckli, Amir Amedi

 Decoding of Natural Sounds in Congenitally Blind Individuals

To investigate the presence of sound representation in early visual cortex of blind individuals, we acquired fMRI data from 8 congenitally blind participants listening attentively to natural sounds. We used three natural sounds (one exemplar each): a forest scene (bird singing and a stream); a crowd scene (people talking without clear semantic information); and a street scene (traffic noise with cars and motorbikes; Figure 1A). We derived boundaries of early visual areas (V1, V2, and V3) and their foveal and peripheral regions, using cortex-based alignment and overlaying probabilistic retinotopic maps from sighted participants onto reconstructed brain surfaces of blind participants (Figure 1B). Using multi-variate pattern analysis (MVPA), we decoded the three different sounds from fMRI activity patterns in the corresponding early “visual” areas of blind individuals [

  • Vetter P.
  • Smith F.W.
  • Muckli L.
Decoding sound and imagery content in early visual cortex.