Alterations of the visual pathways in congenital blindness

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

We used whole brain MRI voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to study the anatomical organization of the visual system in congenitally blind (CB) adults. Eleven CB without a history of visual perception were compared with 21 age- and sex-matched normal-sighted controls (NS). CB showed significant atrophy of the geniculo-striate system, encompassing the optic nerves, the optic chiasm, the optic radiations and the primary visual cortex (BA17). The volume decrease in BA17 reached 25% in both hemispheres. The pulvinar and its projections to the associative visual areas were also dramatically altered, BA18/19 and the middle temporal cortex (MT) showing volume reductions of up to 20%. Additional significant white matter alterations were observed in the inferior longitudinal tract and in the posterior part of the corpus callosum, which links the visual areas of both hemispheres. Our data indicate that the afferent projections to the visual cortex in CB are largely atrophied. Despite the massive volume reductions in the occipital lobes, there is compelling evidence from the literature (reviewed in Noppeney 2007; Ptito and Kupers 2005) that blind subjects activate their visual cortex when performing tasks that involve somatosensory or auditory inputs, suggesting a reorganization of the neural pathways that transmit sensory information to the visual cortex.
TidsskriftExperimental Brain Research
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)41-9
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 1 maj 2008

ID: 33434955