Why Does the Cortex Reorganize After Sensory Loss?

Investigating the Teleology of Cortical Reorganization

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that the brain can reorganize dra- matically following sensory loss. Although the existence of such neuroplastic crossmodal changes is not in doubt, the functional significance of these changes remains unclear. The dominant belief is that reorganization is com- pensatory. However, results thus far do not unequivocally indicate that sensory deprivation results in markedly enhanced abilities in other senses. Here, we consider alternative reasons besides sensory compensation that might drive the brain to reorganize after sensory loss. One such possibility is that the cortex reorganizes not to confer functional benefits, but to avoid undesirable physio- logical consequences of sensory deafferentation. Empirical assessment of the validity of this and other possibilities defines a rich program for future research.

Amy Kalia Singh, Flip Phillips, Lotfi B. Merabet, Pawan Sinha, Why Does the Cortex Reorganize after Sensory Loss?, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Available online 12 June 2018, ISSN 1364-6613, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2018.04.004.

Keywords: cortical reorganization; plasticity; sensory loss; multimodal activations; sensory compensation

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