Normal Olfactory Functional Connectivity Despite Life-Long Absence of Olfactory Experiences
Congenital blindness is associated with atypical morphology, and functional connectivity within and from, visual cortical regions; changes that are hypothesized to originate from a life-long absence of visual input and could be regarded as a general (re)organization principle of sensory cortices. Challenging this is the fact that individuals with congenital anosmia (life-long olfactory sensory loss) display little to no morphological changes in primary olfactory cortex. To determine whether olfactory input from birth is essential to establish and maintain normal functional connectivity in olfactory processing regions, akin to the visual system, we assessed differences in functional connectivity within olfactory cortex between individuals with congenital anosmia (n=33) and matched controls (n=34). Specifically, we assessed differences in connectivity between core olfactory processing regions as well as differences in regional homogeneity and homotopic connectivity within primary olfactory cortex. In contrast to congenital blindness, none of the analyses indicated atypical connectivity in individuals with congenital anosmia. In fact, post-hoc Bayesian analysis provided support for an absence of group differences. These results suggest that a lifelong absence of olfactory experience has limited impact on the functional connectivity in olfactory cortex, a finding that indicates a clear difference between sensory modalities in how sensory cortical regions develop. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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