Melanopsin retinal ganglion cells (mRGCs) are intrinsically photosensitive photoreceptors contributing to visual and non-image-forming functions of the eye. Isolating mRGC roles in humans is challenging, therefore mRGCs functions remains to be fully characterized. We explored mRGCs contribution to light-driven visual and cognitive brain responses in Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), given mRGC relative sparing in LHON. Twelve patients and twelve matched healthy controls (HC) participated in an fMRI protocol including visual and visual cognitive paradigms under blue (480nm) and red light (620nm). Higher occipital activation was found in response to sustained blue vs. red stimulation in LHON vs. HC. Similarly, brain responses to the executive task were larger under blue vs. red light in LHON over lateral prefrontal cortex. These findings are in line with LHON mRGCs relative sparing and support mRGCs contribution to non-visual and visual functions in humans, with potential implication for visual rehabilitation in optic neuropathy patients.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience