see also pure word deafness
Congenital deafness represents a particular case with respect to other types of sensory deprivation, because cortical reorganisation is not only a consequence of auditory deprivation, but also of language-driven mechanisms. Visual crossmodal plasticity has been found in secondary auditory cortices of deaf individuals, but it is still unclear if reorganisation also takes place in primary auditory areas, and how this relates to language modality and auditory deprivation. Here, we dissociated the effects of language modality and auditory deprivation on crossmodal plasticity in Heschl's gyrus as a whole, and in cytoarchitectonic region Te1.0 (likely to contain the core auditory cortex). Using fMRI, we measured the BOLD response to viewing sign language in congenitally or early deaf individuals with and without sign language knowledge, and in hearing controls. Results show that differences between hearing and deaf individuals are due to a reduction in activation caused by visual stimulation in the hearing group, which is more significant in Te1.0 than in Heschl's gyrus as a whole. Furthermore, differences between deaf and hearing groups are due to auditory deprivation, and there is no evidence that the modality of language used by deaf individuals contributes to crossmodal plasticity in Heschl's gyrus 1).
The primary auditory cortex is the part of the temporal lobe that processes auditory information in humans and other vertebrates. It is a part of the auditory system, performing basic and higher functions in hearing.
It is located bilaterally, roughly at the upper sides of the temporal lobes – in humans on the superior temporal plane, within the lateral fissure and comprising parts of Heschl's gyrus and the superior temporal gyrus, including planum polare and planum temporale (roughly Brodmann areas 41, 42, and partially 22).