Human blindsight is mediated by an intact geniculo-extrastriate pathway

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Although damage to the primary visual cortex (V1) causes hemianopia, many patients retain some residual vision; known as blindsight. We show that blindsight may be facilitated by an intact white-matter pathway between the lateral geniculate nucleus and motion area hMT+. Visual psychophysics, diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and fibre tractography were applied in 17 patients with V1 damage acquired during adulthood and 9 age-matched controls. Individuals with V1 damage were subdivided into blindsight positive (preserved residual vision) and negative (no residual vision) according to psychophysical performance. All blindsight positive individuals showed intact geniculo-hMT+ pathways, while this pathway was significantly impaired or not measurable in blindsight negative individuals. Two white matter pathways previously implicated in blindsight: (i) superior colliculus to hMT+ and (ii) between hMT+ in each hemisphere were not consistently present in blindsight positive cases. Understanding the visual pathways crucial for residual vision may direct future rehabilitation strategies for hemianopia patients.




Ajina, S., Pestilli, F., Rokem, A., Kennard, C., & Bridge, H. (2015). Human blindsight is mediated by an intact geniculo-extrastriate pathway. ELife, 4(OCTOBER2015).

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