Seeing Beyond Your Nose? The Effects of Lifelong Olfactory Sensory Deprivation on Cerebral Audio-visual Integration

Moa G. Peter*, Gustav Mårtensson, Elbrich M. Postma, Love Engström Nordin, Eric Westman, Sanne Boesveldt, Johan N. Lundström

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Lifelong auditory and visual sensory deprivation have been demonstrated to alter both perceptual acuity and the neural processing of remaining senses. Recently, it was demonstrated that individuals with anosmia, i.e. complete olfactory sensory deprivation, displayed enhanced multisensory integration performance. Whether this ability is due to a reorganization of olfactory processing regions to focus on cross-modal multisensory information or whether it is due to enhanced processing within multisensory integration regions is not known. To dissociate these two outcomes, we investigated the neural processing of dynamic audio-visual stimuli in individuals with congenital anosmia and matched controls (both groups, n = 33) using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Specifically, we assessed whether the previously demonstrated multisensory enhancement is related to cross-modal processing of multisensory stimuli in olfactory associated regions, the piriform and olfactory orbitofrontal cortices, or enhanced multisensory processing in established multisensory integration regions, the superior temporal and intraparietal sulci. No significant group differences were found in the a priori hypothesized regions using region of interest analyses. However, exploratory whole-brain analysis suggested higher activation related to multisensory integration within the posterior superior temporal sulcus, in close proximity to the multisensory region of interest, in individuals with congenital anosmia. No group differences were demonstrated in olfactory associated regions. Although results were outside our hypothesized regions, combined, they tentatively suggest that enhanced processing of audio-visual stimuli in individuals with congenital anosmia may be mediated by multisensory, and not primary sensory, cerebral regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience
Volume472
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • anosmia
  • cross-modal
  • multisensory integration
  • sensory loss

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