October 31, 2020

Functional dynamics of de-afferented early visual cortex in glaucoma

fMRI studies in macular degeneration (MD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP) demonstrated that responses in the lesion projection zones (LPZ) of V1 are task related, indicating significant limits of bottom-up visual system plasticity in MD and RP. In advanced glaucoma (GL), a prevalent eye disease and leading cause of blindness, the scope of visual system plasticity is currently unknown. We performed 3T fMRI in patients with extensive visual field defects due to GL (n=5), RP (n=2) and healthy controls (n=7; with simulated defects). Participants viewed contrast patterns drifting in 8 directions alternating with uniform gray and performed 3 tasks: (1) passive viewing (PV), (2) one-back task (OBT) and (3) fixation-dot task (FDT). During PV, they passively viewed the stimulus with central fixation, during OBT they reported the succession of the same two motion directions, and during FDT a change in the fixation color. In GL, LPZ responses of the early visual cortex (V1, V2 and V3) shifted from negative during PV to positive for OBT [p (corrected): V1(0.006); V2(0.04); V3(0.008)], while they were negative in the controls’ simulated LPZ for all stimulation conditions. For RP a similar pattern as for GL was observed. Consequently, activity in the de-afferented visual cortex in glaucoma is, similar to MD and RP, task-related. In conclusion, the lack of bottom-up plasticity appears to be a general feature of the human visual system. These insights are of importance for the development of treatment and rehabilitation schemes in glaucoma. Keywords: Visual cortex, Lesion projection zone, fMRI, Task-dependent activity, glaucoma, plasticity Highlights: 1. Functional dynamics of early visual cortex LPZ depend on task demands in glaucoma 2. Brain activity in deprived visual cortex suggests absence of large-scale remapping 3. Limited scope of bottom-up plasticity is a general feature of human visual system 4. Visual system stability and plasticity is of relevance for therapeutic advances

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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