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Residual vision in subjects with damage of the primary visual cortex (striate cortex) has been demonstrated in many previous studies and is taken to reflect the properties of known subcortical and extrastriate visual pathways. In this report we describe psychophysical experiments carried out on a subject clinically blind in half of his visual field (i.e. homonymous hemianopia) caused by striate cortex damage. They reveal the existence of two distinct channels mediating such vision. One channel responds to spatial structure and the other to light flux changes. The spatially tuned channel has a peak response at about 1.2 cycles per degree and shows rapid loss of sensitivity at both high and low spatial frequencies. This channel does not respond to diffuse illumination. The light flux channel, however, responds only to sudden increments in light flux levels on the retina and shows extensive spatial summation. Both channels require transient inputs, with a peak sensitivity at about 10 cycles per second and show virtually complete attenuation at temporal frequencies below 2 cycles per second. The spatiotemporal characteristics of these two channels account for much of the reported limits of visual performance attributed to subcortical or extrastriate pathways in some patients, and especially for their relatively good sensitivity for the detection of abrupt, transient stimuli or fast-moving targets. A new method is also applied to the measurement of the amount of light scatter in the eye. The measurements show that light scatter into the sighted hemifield could not account for the results obtained with the stimuli used to characterized the residual vision of this subject.

Original publication




Journal article


Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Publication Date





157 - 166


Accidents, Traffic, Acoustic Stimulation, Blindness, Cerebral Hemorrhage, Child, Humans, Male, Photic Stimulation, Space Perception, Vision, Monocular, Visual Cortex, Visual Fields