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. 2016 Mar 24;6:23268.
doi: 10.1038/srep23268.

Cortical Thickness in Human V1 Associated With Central Vision Loss

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Free PMC article

Cortical Thickness in Human V1 Associated With Central Vision Loss

Wesley K Burge et al. Sci Rep. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Better understanding of the extent and scope of visual cortex plasticity following central vision loss is essential both for clarifying the mechanisms of brain plasticity and for future development of interventions to retain or restore visual function. This study investigated structural differences in primary visual cortex between normally-sighted controls and participants with central vision loss due to macular degeneration (MD). Ten participants with MD and ten age-, gender-, and education-matched controls with normal vision were included. The thickness of primary visual cortex was assessed using T1-weighted anatomical scans, and central and peripheral cortical regions were carefully compared between well-characterized participants with MD and controls. Results suggest that, compared to controls, participants with MD had significantly thinner cortex in typically centrally-responsive primary visual cortex - the region of cortex that normally receives visual input from the damaged area of the retina. Conversely, peripherally-responsive primary visual cortex demonstrated significantly increased cortical thickness relative to controls. These results suggest that central vision loss may give rise to cortical thinning, while in the same group of people, compensatory recruitment of spared peripheral vision may give rise to cortical thickening. This work furthers our understanding of neural plasticity in the context of adult vision loss.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Example Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (SLO) image of a macular degeneration participant’s left retina.
The black dots indicate visual stimuli that the participant was able to respond to. The black triangles indicate stimuli that the participant did not respond to. The silver dot in the center indicates the likely fovea location. The silver line indicates the extent of the scotoma as drawn by the clinician and author DKD. Measurements of scotoma size were calculated on a subject-by-subject basis using each individual’s SLO image of their retina. A measurement of the diameter was made horizontally through the fovea as well as vertically through the fovea. This measurement was then converted to visual degrees using previously reported methods.
Figure 2
Figure 2. V1 regions of interest.
(A) Flat-map of an inflated left hemisphere. The yellow line indicates the V1/V2 border as defined by the Freesurfer V1 label. The blue lines indicate the individual labels used for analysis. (B) The labels from part A, shown on the fsaverage partially inflated surface. The occipital pole and medial surface are shown. The numbers indicate the ROI naming scheme. (C) The gyrus peak (Blue) and depth of sulcus (Magenta) regions of interest on the fsaverage partially inflated surface. (D) The bank of the sulcus regions of interest on the fsaverage partially inflated surface.
Figure 3
Figure 3
(A) Cortical thickness of macular degeneration (MD) and Control participants in the Bar ROIs shown in Fig. 2B. (B) Cortical thickness of MD and Control participants in the Circle ROIs shown in Fig. 2C, comprising the gyrus peak along the calcarine sulcus. (C) Cortical thickness of MD and Control participants in the Circle ROIs show in Fig. 2D, comprising the bank of the calcarine sulcus. (D) Cortical thickness of MD and Control participants in the Circle ROIs shown in Fig. 2C, comprising the depth of the calcarine sulcus. Error bars show standard error of the mean.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Cortical thickness of macular degeneration (MD) and Control participants in the same sets of ROIs as in Fig. 3.
The data are the same as in Fig. 3, but each participant’s data are aligned based on the eccentricity of that participant’s scotoma border. ROIs are: (A) Bar ROIs as shown in Fig. 2B (B) Gyrus Peak Circle ROIs shown in Fig. 2C (C) bank of the calcarine sulcus Circle ROIs shown in Fig. 2D (D) depth of the calcarine sulcus Circle ROIs shown in Fig. 2C. Error bars show standard error of the mean.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Grey matter volume of primary visual cortex in macular degeneration (MD) and Control participants using the ROIs shown in Fig. 2B.
Error bars show standard error of the mean.

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