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Visual Plasticity After Brain Damage

plasticityDamage to the primary visual cortex (V1) causes a loss of conscious vision over the same part of the visual field through both eyes. Clinically, his increasingly common cause of permanent disability is still considered intractable. However, the existence of blindsight (a largely unconscious ability to sense moving and flickering stimuli) suggests partial preservation of visual processing in cortically blind fields. The now, well-documented existence of visual pathways that bypass V1 and convey information from the eyes to higher-level visual cortical areas, begs the question: can they be recruited to restore vision in cortical blindness?

Our team recently discovered that visual training can recover normal threshold levels of discrimination and awareness for both simple and complex motion in the trained regions of cortically blind fields. However, the extent of recovery possible and the mechanisms underlying it are unknown.

Current projects in the lab include:

  • Explore potential benefits of manipulating visual attention during training (collaboration with Marisa Carrasco)
  • Analysis of processing mechanisms that underlie training-induced visual recovery (collaboration with Duje Tadin)
  • Retrograde degeneration after V1 damage in humans: timecourse and consequences for recovery (collaboration with Holly Bridge)
  • Critical or sensitive periods for recovery:
    • Differences in visual processing in sub-acute versus chronic stroke patients
    • Differences in efficacy and properties of visual training in sub-acute versus chronic stroke patients
  • Multisensory processing in cortical blindness – impact of vision loss on auditory processing (collaboration with Ross Maddox)
  • Virtual Reality: development as a training tool (collaboration with Gabriel Diaz)
  • Microsaccades and fixational eye movements in cortical blindness (collaboration with Martina Poletti)
  • Motion processing for eye movements in cortical blindness (collaboration with Jude Mitchell)
  • Consequences of V1 damage and subsequent training on visual processing in the dLGN (collaboration with Farran Briggs)

Anasuya Das' PhD thesis presentation - Video 07.19.2013

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