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Title: Prior visual experience modulates learning of sound localization among blind individuals
Authors: Tao, Q 
Chan, CCH 
Luo, YJ
Li, JJ
Ting, KH 
Lu, ZL 
Whitfield-Gabrieli, S
Wang, J
Lee, TMC
Issue Date: 2017
Source: Brain topography, 2017, v. 30, no. 3, p. 364-379
Abstract: Cross-modal learning requires the use of information from different sensory modalities. This study investigated how the prior visual experience of late blind individuals could modulate neural processes associated with learning of sound localization. Learning was realized by standardized training on sound localization processing, and experience was investigated by comparing brain activations elicited from a sound localization task in individuals with (late blind, LB) and without (early blind, EB) prior visual experience. After the training, EB showed decreased activation in the precuneus, which was functionally connected to a limbic-multisensory network. In contrast, LB showed the increased activation of the precuneus. A subgroup of LB participants who demonstrated higher visuospatial working memory capabilities (LB-HVM) exhibited an enhanced precuneus-lingual gyrus network. This differential connectivity suggests that visuospatial working memory due to the prior visual experience gained via LB-HVM enhanced learning of sound localization. Active visuospatial navigation processes could have occurred in LB-HVM compared to the retrieval of previously bound information from long-term memory for EB. The precuneus appears to play a crucial role in learning of sound localization, disregarding prior visual experience. Prior visual experience, however, could enhance cross-modal learning by extending binding to the integration of unprocessed information, mediated by the cognitive functions that these experiences develop.
Keywords: Blindness
Experience modulation
Functional connectivity
Sound localization
Publisher: Springer
Journal: Brain topography 
ISSN: 0896-0267
EISSN: 1573-6792
DOI: 10.1007/s10548-017-0549-z
Rights: © The Author(s) 2017. This article is published with open access at
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
The following publication Tao, Q., Chan, C. C., Luo, Y. J., Li, J. J., Ting, K. H., Lu, Z. L., ... & Lee, T. M. (2017). Prior visual experience modulates learning of sound localization among blind individuals. Brain topography, 30(3), 364-379 is available at
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