Experience-dependent reorganisation of functional maps in the cerebral cortex is well described in the primary sensory cortices. However, there is relatively little evidence for such cortical reorganisation over the short-term. Using human somatosensory cortex as a model, we investigated the effects of a 24-hour gluing manipulation in which the right index and right middle fingers (digits 2 & 3) were adjoined with surgical glue. Somatotopic representations, assessed with two 7 tesla fMRI protocols, revealed rapid off-target reorganisation in the non-manipulated fingers following gluing, with the representation of the ring finger (digit 4) shifted towards the little finger (digit 5) and away from the middle finger (digit 3). These shifts were also evident in two behavioural tasks conducted in an independent cohort, showing reduced sensitivity for discriminating the temporal order of stimuli to the ring and little fingers, and increased substitution errors across this pair on a speeded reaction time task.
- James Kolasinski
- Tamar R Makin
- Charlotte J Stagg
- Saad Jbabdi
- Heidi Johansen-Berg
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: All data were acquired in accordance with local central university research ethics committee approval (University of Oxford MSD-IDREC-C2-2013-05). Eighteen participants were recruited, each providing written informed consent to take part in this study, and for the results of this study to be published.
- Richard Ivry, University of California, Berkeley, United States
© 2016, Kolasinski et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The functional complementarity of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) and optokinetic reflex (OKR) allows for optimal combined gaze stabilization responses (CGR) in light. While sensory substitution has been reported following complete vestibular loss, the capacity of the central vestibular system to compensate for partial peripheral vestibular loss remains to be determined. Here, we first demonstrate the efficacy of a 6-week subchronic ototoxic protocol in inducing transient and partial vestibular loss which equally affects the canal- and otolith-dependent VORs. Immunostaining of hair cells in the vestibular sensory epithelia revealed that organ-specific alteration of type I, but not type II, hair cells correlates with functional impairments. The decrease in VOR performance is paralleled with an increase in the gain of the OKR occurring in a specific range of frequencies where VOR normally dominates gaze stabilization, compatible with a sensory substitution process. Comparison of unimodal OKR or VOR versus bimodal CGR revealed that visuo-vestibular interactions remain reduced despite a significant recovery in the VOR. Modeling and sweep-based analysis revealed that the differential capacity to optimally combine OKR and VOR correlates with the reproducibility of the VOR responses. Overall, these results shed light on the multisensory reweighting occurring in pathologies with fluctuating peripheral vestibular malfunction.
Genuinely new discovery transcends existing knowledge. Despite this, many analyses in systems neuroscience neglect to test new speculative hypotheses against benchmark empirical facts. Some of these analyses inadvertently use circular reasoning to present existing knowledge as new discovery. Here, I discuss that this problem can confound key results and estimate that it has affected more than three thousand studies in network neuroscience over the last decade. I suggest that future studies can reduce this problem by limiting the use of speculative evidence, integrating existing knowledge into benchmark models, and rigorously testing proposed discoveries against these models. I conclude with a summary of practical challenges and recommendations.