Monocular visual activation patterns in albinism as revealed by functional magnetic resonance imaging

Hum Brain Mapp. 2004 Sep;23(1):40-52. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20046.


Human albinism is characterized by a disturbance of the chiasmatic projection system leading to predominant representation of just one eye in the contralateral hemisphere. Patients show congenital nystagmus without perceiving oscillopsia. The purpose of the present study was to demonstrate the consequences of atypical chiasmatic crossing with monocular visual stimulation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Sixteen patients with albinism and fifteen normally pigmented controls were stimulated with a monocular visual activation paradigm using flickering checkerboards. In patients, we observed contralaterally dominated activation of visual cortices correlating to clinical albinism parameters. This confirms albinism as a continuous range of hypopigmentation disorders. Additionally, albinos showed activation of the superior colliculus and of visual motion areas although the stimulus was stationary. Activation of visual motion areas is due probably to congenital nystagmus without a conscious correlate like oscillopsia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albinism, Ocular / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Optic Chiasm / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Vision, Monocular / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*