Visuo-spatial imagery in dreams of congenitally and early blind: a systematic review

Katarina Ilic, Rita Bertani, Neda Lapteva, Panagis Drakatos, Alessio Delogu, Kausar Raheel, Matthew Soteriou, Carlotta Mutti, Joerg Steier, David W Carmichael, Peter J Goadsby, Adam Ockelford, Ivana Rosenzweig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The presence of visual imagery in dreams of congenitally blind people has long been a matter of substantial controversy. We set to systematically review body of published work on the presence and nature of oneiric visuo-spatial impressions in congenitally and early blind subjects across different areas of research, from experimental psychology, functional neuroimaging, sensory substitution, and sleep research.

METHODS: Relevant studies were identified using the following databases: EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsychINFO.

RESULTS: Studies using diverse imaging techniques and sensory substitution devices broadly suggest that the "blind" occipital cortex may be able to integrate non-visual sensory inputs, and thus possibly also generate visuo-spatial impressions. Visual impressions have also been reported by blind subjects who had near-death or out-of-body experiences.

CONCLUSION: Deciphering the mechanistic nature of these visual impression could open new possibility in utilization of neuroplasticity and its potential role for treatment of neurodisability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1204129
JournalFrontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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