The acts of opening and closing the eyes are of importance for congenital blindness: Evidence from resting-state fMRI

Yi Xuan Feng, Ren Yuan Li, Wei Wei, Zi Jian Feng, Yun Kai Sun, Hai Yang Sun, Yi Yuan Tang, Yu Feng Zang, Ke Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Volitional eye closure is observed only in conscious and awake humans, and is rare in animals. It is believed that eye closure can focus one's attention inward and facilitate activities such as meditation and mental imagery. Congenital blind individuals are also required to close their eyes for these activities. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (RS-fMRI) studies have found robust differences between the eyes-closed (EC) and eyes-open (EO) conditions in some brain regions in the sighted. This study analyzed data from 21 congenital blind individuals and 21 sighted controls by using amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF) of RS-fMRI. The blind group and the sighted group shared similar pattern of differences between the EC and EO condition: ALFF was higher in the EC condition than the EO condition in the bilateral primary sensorimotor cortex, bilateral supplementary motor area, and inferior occipital cortex, while ALFF was lower in the EC condition than the EO condition in the medial prefrontal cortex, highlighting the “nature” effect on the difference between the EC and EO conditions. The results of other matrices such as fractional ALFF (fALFF) and regional homogeneity (ReHo) showed similar patterns to that of ALFF. Moreover, no significant difference was observed between the EC-EO pattern of the two subgroups of congenital blind (i.e., with and without light perception), suggesting that the EC-EO difference is irrespective of residual light perception which reinforced the “nature” effect. We also found between-group differences, i.e., more probably “nurture effect”, in the posterior insula and fusiform. Our results suggest that the acts of closing and opening the eyes are of importance for the congenital blind, and that these actions and their differences might be inherent in the nature of humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117966
JournalNeuroImage
Volume233
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Congenital blindness
  • Eyes-closed
  • Eyes-open
  • Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging

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