Why Does the Cortex Reorganize after Sensory Loss?


Singh AK, Phillips F, Merabet LB, Sinha P. Why Does the Cortex Reorganize after Sensory Loss?. Trends Cogn Sci. 2018;22 (7) :569-582. Copy at https://tinyurl.com/ybpkymqt

Date Published:

2018 Jul


A growing body of evidence demonstrates that the brain can reorganize dramatically 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 compensatory. 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 physiological consequences of sensory deafferentation. Empirical assessment of the validity of this and other possibilities defines a rich program for future research.