Binda, P., Kurzawski, J. W., Lunghi, C., Biagi, L., Tosetti, M. & Morrone, M. C. (2018).
Response to short-term deprivation of the human adult visual cortex measured with 7T BOLD, Elife, (7).
Sensory deprivation during the post-natal 'critical period' leads to structural reorganization of the developing visual cortex. In adulthood, the visual cortex retains some flexibility and adapts to sensory deprivation. Here we show that short-term (2h) monocular deprivation in adult humans boosts the BOLD response to the deprived eye, changing ocular dominance of V1 vertices, consistent with homeostatic plasticity. The boost is strongest in V1, present in V2, V3 and V4 but absent in V3a and hMT+. Assessment of spatial frequency tuning in V1 by a population Receptive-Field technique shows that deprivation primarily boosts high spatial frequencies, consistent with a primary involvement of the parvocellular pathway. Crucially, the V1 deprivation effect correlates across participants with the perceptual increase of the deprived eye dominance assessed with binocular rivalry, suggesting a common origin. Our results demonstrate that visual cortex, particularly the ventral pathway, retains a high potential for homeostatic plasticity in the human adult.