A number-form area in the blind

Sami Abboud, Shachar Maidenbaum, Stanislas Dehaene, Amir Amedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Distinct preference for visual number symbols was recently discovered in the human right inferior temporal gyrus (rITG). It remains unclear how this preference emerges, what is the contribution of shape biases to its formation and whether visual processing underlies it. Here we use congenital blindness as a model for brain development without visual experience. During fMRI, we present blind subjects with shapes encoded using a novel visual-to-music sensory-substitution device (The EyeMusic). Greater activation is observed in the rITG when subjects process symbols as numbers compared with control tasks on the same symbols. Using resting-state fMRI in the blind and sighted, we further show that the areas with preference for numerals and letters exhibit distinct patterns of functional connectivity with quantity and language-processing areas, respectively. Our findings suggest that specificity in the ventral "visual" stream can emerge independently of sensory modality and visual experience, under the influence of distinct connectivity patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6026
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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