February 23, 2018 – INT – 2h30 pm
Meeting at 13h00 for the students of the ICN PhD program
Olivier Collignon works in the Psychological Sciences Research Institute at Université Catholique de Louvain.
“Crossmodal plasticity: Recycling pre-existing neural and computational architecture?”
Studies in early blind people provide important insights into the interaction between experience and intrinsic biological constraints in shaping the development of the sensory and cognitive brain regions. In early blind, occipital regions massively enhance their response to non-visual inputs. But what are the mechanisms guiding this crossmodal reorganization process? It was suggested that these neuroplastic changes are constrained by the native functional organization of the occipital cortex. In contrast to this view, other studies suggest that the occipital cortex is recruited in the blind by higher-level cognitive operations that have little to do with native occipital functions such as memory, language processing or numerical thinking. In the talk, I will intend to reconcile these two apparently contradicting views of the mechanisms governing crossmodal plasticity by making the hypothesis that the recruitment of the occipital cortex in early blind individuals by higher-level cognitive functions also link to the intrinsic computational role of specific regions. However, I will also illustrate how the fact that crossmodal plasticity may recycle the pre-existing neural and computational architecture of occipital regions does not mean these regions are amodal or abstracted from sensory input and experience.