Previous studies have suggested that individuals deprived of auditory input can compensate with specific superior abilities in the remaining sensory modalities. To better understand the neural basis of deafness-induced changes, the present study used electroencephalography to examine visual functions and cross-modal reorganization of the auditory cortex in deaf individuals. Congenitally deaf participants and hearing controls were presented with reversing chequerboard stimuli that were systematically modulated in luminance ratio. The two groups of participants showed similar modulation of visual evoked potential (VEP) amplitudes (N85, P110) and latencies (P110) as a function of luminance ratio. Analysis of VEPs revealed faster neural processing in deaf participants compared with hearing controls at early stages of cortical visual processing (N85). Deaf participants also showed higher amplitudes (P110) than hearing participants. In contrast to our expectations, the results from VEP source analysis revealed no clear evidence for cross-modal reorganization in the auditory cortex of deaf participants. However, deaf participants tended to show higher activation in posterior parietal cortex (PPC). Moreover, modulation of PPC responses as a function of luminance was also stronger in deaf than in hearing participants. Taken together, these findings are an indication of more efficient neural processing of visual information in the deaf, which may relate to functional changes, in particular in multisensory parietal cortex, as a consequence of early auditory deprivation.
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