Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nerve bundles in visual cortex of the brain in blind people may process sense of touch

Date:
February 25, 2011
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Nerve bundles in the visual cortex of the brain in blind people may process the sense of touch.

The Stripe of Gennari (right: subjects with normal vision, left: blind subjects) shows up as a thin dark line in the sulcus calcinarus (white) which surrounds the primary visual cortex.
Credit: Copyright Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

The Stripe of Gennari develops even in those who are blind from birth and does not degenerate, despite a lack of visual input. This was discovered by Robert Trampel and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences using magnetic resonance imaging. This bundle of nerve fibers, which is approximately 0.3 mm thick, is not exclusively responsible for optic information.

Related Articles


In the blind, it might play a greater role in processing tactile stimuli. This could contribute to an enhanced sense of touch and support fast reading of Braille. (Cerebral Cortex, Online 10. 02. 2011)

The Stripe of Gennari -- also known as the 'Stria of Gennari' -- transverses the gray matter of the primary visual cortex as a distinct white line. "Although the visual cortex is one of the best-studied parts of the brain, and the Stripe of Gennari is a rather obvious structure, why it develops and what its function is has not previously been studied in detail," explains Robert Trampel from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. "An obvious connection with sight was assumed."

However, as is now clear, this cannot be the only function of the stripe of Gennari: In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, the researchers found the stripe of Gennari in the brains of congenitally blind subjects. "This brain structure therefore can't exclusively be involved in vision and must be capable of carrying out other tasks," says Trampel. In the blind, the Stripe of Gennari could play a role in supporting the sense of touch, the scientists speculate. "This faculty is essential in reading Braille and the region carrying the Gennari-Stripe is known to show an increased activity in the blind when performing this task." All participants in the present study were highly proficient in reading Braille, having responded to an advertisement written in Braille in a newspaper for the visually impaired.

However, since the stripe of Gennari is already present in the first years of life and does not degenerate, it is likely to have an important role already in early infancy. In blind people, the brain uses tactile and acoustic stimuli to construct a rough spatial representation of the surroundings in the absence of visual information. The stripe of Gennari might play a role in this process and could later support highly demanding tactile tasks, like Braille-reading. In future studies with fMRI, the researchers aim to learn more about the work of this versatile nerve bundle in the human brain.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Trampel, D. V. M. Ott, R. Turner. Do the Congenitally Blind Have a Stria of Gennari? First Intracortical Insights In Vivo. Cerebral Cortex, 2011; DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhq282

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Nerve bundles in visual cortex of the brain in blind people may process sense of touch." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222140544.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2011, February 25). Nerve bundles in visual cortex of the brain in blind people may process sense of touch. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222140544.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Nerve bundles in visual cortex of the brain in blind people may process sense of touch." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222140544.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins