Reorganization of human cortical maps caused by inherited photoreceptor abnormalities

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Apr;5(4):364-70. doi: 10.1038/nn817.


We describe a compelling demonstration of large-scale developmental reorganization in the human visual pathways. The developmental reorganization was observed in rod monochromats, a rare group of congenitally colorblind individuals who virtually lack cone photoreceptor function. Normal controls had a cortical region, spanning several square centimeters, that responded to signals initiated in the all-cone foveola but was inactive under rod viewing conditions; in rod monochromats this cortical region responded powerfully to rod-initiated signals. The measurements trace a causal pathway that begins with a genetic anomaly that directly influences sensory cells and ultimately results in a substantial central reorganization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Color Vision Defects / genetics
  • Color Vision Defects / pathology
  • Color Vision Defects / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / abnormalities
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*