Effect of reading on blood flow changes in the posterior cerebral artery in early blind and sighted people — A transcranial Doppler study

Published:February 21, 2016DOI:


      • PCA flow velocity increased significantly in blind people during reading Braille.
      • Similar PCA flow increase was evoked by reading alone in blind and sighted subjects.
      • Reading alone induced similar occipital cortex activation in blind and sighted subjects.
      • In sighted people light stimulus evoked higher PCA flow response than reading alone.
      • Light stimulus caused 2/3 of PCA flow increase in sighted people during reading.



      Neuroimaging studies proved that Braille reading resulted in visual cortex activation in blind people, however, very few data are available about the measure of flow increase in these subjects. Therefore, we investigated the flow response in the posterior cerebral artery (PCA) of eleven early blind and ten sighted subjects induced by reading Braille and print, respectively.


      Two experimental protocols were used in both groups: PCA flow velocity during reading was compared to the resting phase and “NLC” phase (volunteers “read” non-lexical characters; e.g. .,-.:,-.:...,). The use of these experimental protocols allowed to investigate separately the effect of “light stimulus + print reading” versus “print reading alone” in sighted, and “hand/finger movement + Braille reading” versus “Braille reading alone” in blind subjects.


      The flow response in the PCA evoked by “Braille reading alone” in blind (10.5 ± 4.5%) and “print reading alone” in sighted subjects (8.1 ± 3.5%) was similar. The flow increase induced by “hand/finger movement + Braille reading” and by “Braille reading alone” did not differ in blind people, however, “light stimulus + print reading” in sighted subjects caused higher PCA flow increase (25.9 ± 6.9%) than “print reading alone” (8.1 ± 3.5%).


      The similar PCA flow response induced by Braille and print reading alone suggested a similar degree of occipital cortex activation in blind and sighted subjects. In sighted people, the 3-times higher flow velocity increase induced by “light stimulus + print reading” compared with “print reading alone” indicated that 2/3 of PCA flow increase during reading was due to the light stimulus and only 1/3 of flow response was caused by reading alone.


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