Crossmodal plasticity refers to the reorganization of sensory cortices in the absence of their typical main sensory input. Understanding this phenomenon provides insights into brain function and its potential for change and enhancement. Using functional MRI, we investigated how early deafness influences crossmodal plasticity and the organization of executive functions in the adult human brain. Deaf (n = 25; age: mean = 41.68, range = 19–66, SD = 14.38; 16 female, 9 male) and hearing (n = 20; age: mean = 37.50, range = 18–66, SD = 16.85; 15 female, 5 male) participants performed four visual tasks tapping into different components of executive processing: task switching, working memory, planning and inhibition. Our results show that deaf individuals specifically recruit ‘auditory’ regions during task switching. Neural activity in superior temporal regions, most significantly in the right hemisphere, are good predictors of behavioural performance during task switching in the group of deaf individuals, highlighting the functional relevance of the observed cortical reorganization. Our results show executive processing in typically sensory regions, suggesting that the development and ultimate role of brain regions are influenced by perceptual environmental experience.
- auditory cortex
- executive function