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Neuroplasticity in Blind Subjects After Repetitive Tactile Stimulation

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT01754103
Recruitment Status : Unknown
Verified December 2012 by Tomas Ortiz Alonso, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
Recruitment status was:  Recruiting
First Posted : December 21, 2012
Last Update Posted : December 21, 2012
Harvard University
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Tomas Ortiz Alonso, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Brief Summary:

Brain plasticity of cortical activity caused by repetitive tactile stimulation could have a progressive development that was from primary parietal areas, passing over parieto-occipital areas and came secondary to primary occipital areas. This process allows to understand the existence of neurons in the brain and specific areas for certain functions independent of the type of stimulation is performed.

By performing repetitive tactile stimulation over a period of 3 months,using a tactile stimulator, our group will try to prove several that repetitive tactile stimulation can create cross-modality and improve recognition and localization of patterns in blind people.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Blindness Other: Tactile Training Not Applicable

Detailed Description:

The investigators will use passive repetitive tactile stimulation over a period of 3 months, one hour a day for five days a week, with vertical, horizontal and oblique lines generated randomly by a tactile stimulator. Our aim is (a) to study if repetitive tactile stimulation can create cross-modality and improve recognition and localization of patterns in blind people, (b) to evaluate the impact of this training on brain activity the investigators performed high-density scalp EEG recording during the initial stimulation session and in the last one. And (c) measure the functional connectivity of the brain with resting state MRI pre and post training. The resting state MRI protocol consist on one run of T1WI and three bold runs (TE=30ms,TR=3000ms, flip angle 90º,voxel size 3mm, 124 time points, 0 gap).

Cross-modality sensory stimulation may offer a good opportunity to improve recognition, localization and navigation in blind people. Although the neural substrate of this multimodality integration is not fully understood yet. Some areas of the brain, mainly the lateral occipital cortex, are specialized for visual object recognition and they can be activated by tactile stimuli. This activation of the visual cortex might lead to visual-like perception, regardless of the sensory input modality.

In the blind the high demand required by object recognition appears to recruit also ventral and dorsal occipital areas. Blindness modifies neocortical processing of non-visual tasks, including frontoparietal and visual regions during tactile stimulation. It is also known that people with blindness proficient in the use of a visuo-tactile sensory substitution device that presents visual images as patterns of electric stimuli to the subject's tongue, like Bach-y-Rita and Ptito said, show occipital cortex activation in an orientation-discrimination task.

As far as the investigators know there are no studies aimed at understanding the relationship between activation of lateral occipital cortex and the ability to recognize objects presented to the hand along time. In particular, the investigators tested if repetitive passive tactile stimulation leads to activation of visual areas and recognition of spatial patterns in people with blindness.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 24 participants
Allocation: N/A
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Official Title: Neuroplasticity in Blind Subjects After Repetitive Tactile Stimulation
Study Start Date : January 2012
Estimated Primary Completion Date : September 2013
Estimated Study Completion Date : December 2014

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Functional Connectivity MRI
Functional Connectivity will be measured by MRI, we will perform one T1WI run as well as three resting state bold based runs. Bold runs parameters: TE 30ms, TR 3000ms, flip angle 90º, gap 0mm, 124 time points, voxel size 3mm, duration 6min18s each, FOV 240x240x141.
Other: Tactile Training
Tactile Training to induce neuroplasticity in the visual pathway, measured with functional connectivity MRI

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. MRI Functional Connectivity of the visual pathway [ Time Frame: 1 year ]
    Functional Connectivity analysis (fcMRI) is a tool that allows functionally associated brain regions to be identified. fcMRI takes advantage of the observation that the brain regions exhibit spontaneous, low frequency variations as measured using blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) imaging.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   7 Years to 70 Years   (Child, Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Clinical Diagnosis: Different Causes of blindness were diverse: congenital nystagmus, glaucoma, retinopathy, congenital cataracts, lenticular fibroplasia, macular degeneration, optic atrophy, Peter's anomaly with microphthalmia, retinal detachment, retina necrosis, retinitis pigmentosa and uveitis

Exclusion Criteria:

  • No history of neurological, psychiatric, cognitive or sensorimotor deficits other than blindness.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT01754103

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Contact: Tomas Ortiz Alonso, MD, PhD +34 91 394 1495
Contact: Laura Ortiz Teran, MD, PhD

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Universidad Complutense de Madrid Recruiting
Madrid, Spain, 28040
Contact: Tomas Ortiz Alonso, MD,PhD    +34 91 394 1495 ext 1495   
Contact: Laura Ortiz Teran, MD, PhD    +1 617 945 3384   
Principal Investigator: Tomas Ortiz Alonso, MD, PhD         
Sponsors and Collaborators
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Harvard University
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Principal Investigator: Tomás Ortiz Alonso, MD PhD Universidad Complutense de Madrid

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Responsible Party: Tomas Ortiz Alonso, MD PhD, Universidad Complutense de Madrid Identifier: NCT01754103    
Other Study ID Numbers: VISION TACTIL
First Posted: December 21, 2012    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: December 21, 2012
Last Verified: December 2012
Keywords provided by Tomas Ortiz Alonso, Universidad Complutense de Madrid:
tactile stimulation
visual qualia
resting state MRI
functional connectivity
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Vision Disorders
Sensation Disorders
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Eye Diseases