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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 141950, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/141950
Research Article

Alterations of Regional Spontaneous Brain Activity and Gray Matter Volume in the Blind

1Department of Radiology and Tianjin Key Laboratory of Functional Imaging, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, Tianjin 300052, China
2Brainnetome Center, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China

Received 23 December 2014; Revised 20 March 2015; Accepted 25 March 2015

Academic Editor: Lucas Pozzo-Miller

Copyright © 2015 Aili Jiang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Visual deprivation can induce alterations of regional spontaneous brain activity (RSBA). However, the effects of onset age of blindness on the RSBA and the association between the alterations of RSBA and brain structure are still unclear in the blind. In this study, we performed resting-state functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging on 50 sighted controls and 91 blind subjects (20 congenitally blind, 27 early blind, and 44 late blind individuals). Compared with the sighted control, we identified increased RSBA in the blind in primary and high-level visual areas and decreased RSBA in brain regions which are ascribed to sensorimotor and salience networks. In contrast, blind subjects exhibited significantly decreased gray matter volume (GMV) in the visual areas, while they exhibited significantly increased GMV in the sensorimotor areas. Moreover, the onset age of blindness was negatively correlated with the GMV of visual areas in blind subjects, whereas it exerted complex influences on the RSBA. Finally, significant negative correlations were shown between RSBA and GMV values. Our results demonstrated system-dependent, inverse alterations in RSBA and GMV after visual deprivation. Furthermore, the onset age of blindness has different effects on the reorganizations in RSBA and GMV.