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The Effect of Blindness on Spatial Asymmetries

Department of Brain and Behavioural Science, University of Pavia, Piazza Botta 6, 27100 Pavia, Italy
IRCCS Mondino Foundation, 27100 Pavia, Italy
The Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity, Department of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, 20126 Milano, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(10), 662;
Received: 2 August 2020 / Revised: 11 September 2020 / Accepted: 18 September 2020 / Published: 23 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Individual Differences on Spatial Cognition)
The human cerebral cortex is asymmetrically organized with hemispheric lateralization pervading nearly all neural systems of the brain. Whether the lack of normal visual development affects hemispheric specialization subserving the deployment of visuospatial attention asymmetries is controversial. In principle, indeed, the lack of early visual experience may affect the lateralization of spatial functions, and the blind may rely on a different sensory input compared to the sighted. In this review article, we thus present a current state-of-the-art synthesis of empirical evidence concerning the effects of visual deprivation on the lateralization of various spatial processes (i.e., including line bisection, mirror symmetry, and localization tasks). Overall, the evidence reviewed indicates that spatial processes are supported by a right hemispheric network in the blind, hence, analogously to the sighted. Such a right-hemisphere dominance, however, seems more accentuated in the blind as compared to the sighted as indexed by the greater leftward bias shown in different spatial tasks. This is possibly the result of the more pronounced involvement of the right parietal cortex during spatial tasks in blind individuals compared to the sighted, as well as of the additional recruitment of the right occipital cortex, which would reflect the cross-modal plastic phenomena that largely characterize the blind brain. View Full-Text
Keywords: visual deprivation; hemispheric asymmetry; laterality; spatial asymmetries; blindness visual deprivation; hemispheric asymmetry; laterality; spatial asymmetries; blindness
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MDPI and ACS Style

Rinaldi, L.; Ciricugno, A.; Merabet, L.B.; Vecchi, T.; Cattaneo, Z. The Effect of Blindness on Spatial Asymmetries. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 662.

AMA Style

Rinaldi L, Ciricugno A, Merabet LB, Vecchi T, Cattaneo Z. The Effect of Blindness on Spatial Asymmetries. Brain Sciences. 2020; 10(10):662.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rinaldi, Luca, Andrea Ciricugno, Lotfi B. Merabet, Tomaso Vecchi, and Zaira Cattaneo. 2020. "The Effect of Blindness on Spatial Asymmetries" Brain Sciences 10, no. 10: 662.

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