Altered intra- and inter-regional synchronization of superior temporal cortex in deaf people
Functional organization of the brain can be fundamentally altered by auditory deprivation. Previous studies found that the superior temporal cortex in deaf people is reorganized to process non-auditory stimuli, as revealed by the extrinsic task-induced brain activities. However, it is unknown how the intrinsic activities of this region are impacted by deafness. This study explored this issue using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. We examined 60 congenitally deaf (CD) individuals, 39 acquired deaf (AD) individuals, and 38 hearing controls (HC), and focused on the effect of deafness on the intra- and inter-regional synchronization of different parts of superior temporal sulcus (STS). We found that intra-regional synchronization or regional homogeneity (ReHo) of the middle STS (mSTS) was decreased in AD compared with HC or CD, while the CD had preserved ReHo in mSTS. Greater connectivity was observed between mSTS and posterior STS in CD and HC than in AD, while both CD and AD had weaker connectivity of mSTS with the anterior STS (aSTS) compared with HC. Moreover, the connectivity of mSTS-aSTS in CD and AD was associated with their language skills. These findings confirmed our hypothesis that the intrinsic function of different parts of STS is distinctly impacted by deafness.