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BACKGROUND: Blindness of a visual half-field (hemianopia) is a common symptom after postchiasmatic cerebral lesions. Although hemianopia severely limits activities of daily life, current clinical practice comprises no training of visual functions in the blind hemifield. OBJECTIVE: To find out whether flicker sensitivity in the blind hemifield can be improved with intensive training, and whether training with flicker stimulation can evoke changes in cortical responsiveness. METHODS: Two men with homonymous hemianopia participated in the experiments. They trained with flicker stimuli at 30 degrees or with flickering letters at 10 degrees eccentricity twice a week for a year, and continued training with more peripheral stimuli thereafter. Neuromagnetic responses were registered at 1-2-month intervals, and the Goldmann perimetry was recorded before, during and after training. RESULTS: Flicker sensitivity in the blind hemifield improved to the level of the intact hemifield within 30 degrees eccentricity in one participant and 20 degrees eccentricity in the other. Flickering letters were recognised equally at 10 degrees eccentricity in the blind and intact hemifields. Improvement spread from the stimulated horizontal meridian to the whole hemianopic field within 30 degrees. Before training, neuromagnetic recordings showed no signal above the noise level in the hemianopic side. During training, evoked fields emerged in both participants. No changes were found in the Goldmann perimetry. DISCUSSION: Results show that sensitivity to flicker could be fully restored in the stimulated region, that improvement in sensitivity spreads to the surrounding neuronal networks, and that, during training, accompanying changes occurred in the neuromagnetic fields.
Stenbacka L and Vanni S: Central luminance flicker can activate peripheral retinotopic representation. Neuroimage 2007, 34: 342–348.
We aimed to study cortical responses to uniform luminance stimulus in different conditions. We stimulated the central visual field with luminance flicker and reversal of checkerboard pattern contrast and mapped the visual field representation up to 50 degrees of eccentricity. Our results show spreading of cortical BOLD responses when visual stimulus contains mean luminance change in dark surround and no spreading when the stimulus surround has bright illumination. No cortical region was more sensitive to luminance flicker than to pattern reversal during both stimulation setups. We suggest that the spread of luminance responses in retinotopic cortical areas results from intraocular scattering of light. Light scattered inside the eye spreads visual stimulation on the retina, and the contrast of the scattered light is strongest when the surround of the stimulus is dark. The stray light is potential and often neglected source of an artefact in visual experiments, and the responses due to stray light can erroneously be interpreted as indicators for local cortical sensitivity to luminance.
Stenbacka L and Vanni S: FMRI of peripheral visual field representation. Clin Neurophysiol 2007, 17:1476–1485.
OBJECTIVE: Despite mapping tools for central visual field, delineation of peripheral visual field representations in the human cortex has remained a challenge. Access to large visual field and differentiation of retinotopic areas with robust mapping procedures and automated analysis are beneficial in basic research and could accelerate development of clinical applications. METHODS: We constructed a simple optical near view system for wide visual field stimulation, and examined the topology of retinotopic areas. We used multifocal (mf) design, which enables analysis
Annual Report 2007