Daphne Bavelier
Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences
University of Rochester

Plasticity of visual functions: the case of deafness and video games

In this talk, evidence for re-organization of visual functions after congenital deafness will be reviewed. I will argue that deaf do not have better vision, but rather that deafness leads to change in some specific aspects of visual attention. I will discuss the known neural correlates of these behavioral changes, and in particular highlight the role of multi-modal areas in the reorganization observed. To disambiguate the effect of deafness from that of greater reliance on vision on the plastic changes observed, the impact of a highly demanding  visual activity, action video-game playing, will be discussed. I will show that although video-game playing affects several aspects of vision, it does so in a different way than deafness. These studies highlight the specificity of plastic changes.