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Neuroscientist. 2007 Oct;13(5):506-18.

Neural substrates of blindsight after hemispherectomy.

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Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Blindsight is a visual phenomenon whereby hemianopic patients are able to process visual information in their blind visual field without awareness. Previous research demonstrating the existence of blindsight in hemianopic patients has been criticized for the nature of the paradigms used, for the presence of methodological artifacts, and for the possibility that spared islands of visual cortex may have sustained the phenomenon because the patients generally had small circumscribed lesions. To respond to these criticisms, the authors have been investigating for several years now residual visual abilities in the blind field of hemispherectomized patients in whom a whole cerebral hemisphere has been removed or disconnected from the rest of the brain. These patients have offered a unique opportunity to establish the existence of blindsight and to investigate its underlying neuronal mechanisms because in these cases, spared islands of visual cortex cannot be evoked to explain the presence of visual abilities in the blind field. In addition, the authors have been using precise behavioral paradigms, strict control for potential methodological artifacts such as light scatter, fixation, criterion effects, and macular sparing, and they have utilized new neuroimaging techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging tractography to enhance their understanding of the phenomenon. The following article is a review of their research on the involvement of the superior colliculi in blindsight in hemispherectomized patients. .

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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