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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Assessment of the caudate nucleus and its relation to route learning in both congenital and late blind individuals

Patrice Voss1, Madeleine Fortin2, Vincent Corbo3, Jens C Pruessner3 and Franco Lepore2*

Author affiliations

1 Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montréal, Canada

2 Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cognition (CERNEC), Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

3 Douglas Hospital Research Center, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:113  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-113

Published: 4 October 2013

Abstract

Background

In the absence of visual input, the question arises as to how complex spatial abilities develop and how the brain adapts to the absence of this modality. As such, the aim of the current study was to investigate the relationship between visual status and an important brain structure with a well established role in spatial cognition and navigation, the caudate nucleus. We conducted a volumetric analysis of the caudate nucleus in congenitally and late blind individuals, as well as in matched sighted control subjects.

Results

No differences in the volume of the structure were found either between congenitally blind (CB) and matched sighted controls or between late blind (LB) and matched sighted controls. Moreover, contrary to what was expected, no significant correlation was found between caudate volume and performance in a spatial navigation task. Finally, consistent with previously published reports, the volume of the caudate nucleus was found to be negatively correlated with age in the sighted; however such correlations were not significant in the blind groups.

Conclusion

Although there were no group differences, the absence of an age-volume correlation in the blind suggests that visual deprivation may still have an effect on the developmental changes that occur in the caudate nucleus.

Keywords:
Blindness; Caudate nucleus; Spatial navigation; Volumetric MRI