When the primary visual cortex (V1) is damaged, there are a number of alternative pathways that can carry visual information from the eyes to extrastriate visual areas. Damage to the visual cortex from trauma or infarct is often unilateral, extensive and includes gray matter and white matter tracts, which can disrupt other routes to residual visual function. We report an unusual young patient, SBR, who has bilateral damage to the gray matter of V1, sparing the adjacent white matter and surrounding visual areas. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we show that area MT+/V5 is activated bilaterally to visual stimulation, while no significant activity could be measured in V1. Additionally, the white matter tracts between the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) and V1 appear to show some degeneration, while the tracts between LGN and MT+/V5 do not differ from controls. Furthermore, the bilateral nature of the damage suggests that residual visual capacity does not result from strengthened interhemispheric connections. The very specific lesion in SBR suggests that the ipsilateral connection between LGN and MT+/V5 may be important for residual visual function in the presence of damage to V1.
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