The Effect of Blindness on Spatial Asymmetries


Rinaldi L, Ciricugno A, Merabet LB, Vecchi T, Cattaneo Z. The Effect of Blindness on Spatial Asymmetries. Brain Sci. 2020;10 (10) :E662. Copy at


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.


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