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Unilateral damage to the primary visual cortex (V1) leads to clinical blindness in the opposite visual hemifield, yet nonconscious ability to transform unseen visual input into motor output can be retained, a condition known as "blindsight." Here we combined psychophysics, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and tractography to investigate the functional and structural properties that enable the developing brain to partly overcome the effects of early V1 lesion in one blindsight patient. Visual stimuli appeared in either the intact or blind hemifield and simple responses were given with either the left or right hand, thereby creating conditions where visual input and motor output involve the same or opposite hemisphere. When the V1-damaged hemisphere was challenged by incoming visual stimuli, or controlled manual responses to these unseen stimuli, the corpus callosum (CC) dynamically recruited areas in the visual dorsal stream and premotor cortex of the intact hemisphere to compensate for altered visuomotor functions. These compensatory changes in functional brain activity were paralleled by increased connections in posterior regions of the CC, where fibers connecting homologous areas of the parietal cortex course.

Original publication

DOI

10.1073/pnas.1714801114

Type

Journal article

Journal

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date

28/11/2017

Volume

114

Pages

E10475 - E10483

Keywords

Poffenberger, blindsight, corpus callosum, plasticity, tractography