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Ophthalmol Clin North Am. 2001 Mar;14(1):217-42, x.

Deficits in cortical visual function.

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Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Lesions of extrastriate cortex cause selective defects in visual function. Damage to portions of the "ventral stream" in medial and inferior occipitotemporal cortex lead to impaired perception of color or various specific visual object recognition defects, such as prospagnosia, the inability to recognize familiar faces, and alexia, the inability to read. The latter must be distinguished from a variety of other reading defects related to primary visual, attentional, linguistic, or ocular motor impairments. Damage to the "dorsal stream" in lateral occipito-temporo-parietal regions impairs visuospatial capabilities, leading to akinetopsia (impaired motion perception) or Balint's syndrome, a loosely bound triad of simultanagnosia, optic ataxia, and ocular motor apraxia. Topographagnosia can occur with ventral or dorsoal lesions for different reasons. Considerable evidence has accumulated showing that residual vision or even "blindsight," which is visual perception in the absence of awareness, can persist after lesion of striate cortex in some patients.

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