Purpose: To probe the dynamic alternations of neural networks in real-time visual processing after visual deprivation (VD) removal.
Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted. Twenty children with a history of early binocular VD caused by congenital cataracts and 20 matched typically developing (TD) children were enrolled. The event-related potential (ERP) data were obtained via high-density electroencephalography. ERP data were analyzed based on three components (P1, N170, and P2), three test conditions (objects, human faces, and Chinese characters), and peak time and region of interest (ROI) chosen on a grand average head map collapsed from the averaged waveform of each group. Source localization and alpha power spectrum density were applied to define the functional pattern of brain areas and evaluate the attention function.
Results: The VD group showed significantly lower P1 amplitudes than the TD group under all conditions in peak ROIs, which were situated in the left occipito-temporal region. For both VD and TD groups, there were strong N170 effects in the character and human face conditions in the component's peak ROIs. Furthermore, source mapping indicated that the VD group generally showed significantly lower activation in the visual cortex and ventral stream, whereas the beyond network areas (mostly frontal areas) intensively participated in functional compensation in the VD group. The VD group showed significant poststimulus alpha desynchronization in object recognition.
Conclusions: Our research described the mechanisms of visual networks after early binocular VD removal. Our findings may provide a new basis for the poor visual recovery after early binocular VD removal and offer clues for visual recovery strategies.