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Neuropsychologia. 2008 Jan 31;46(2):690-7. Epub 2007 Oct 2.

Visuospatial processing in children with neurofibromatosis type 1.

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Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, MD 21205, United States.


Neuroimaging studies investigating the neural network of visuospatial processing have revealed a right hemisphere network of activation including inferior parietal lobe, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and extrastriate regions. Impaired visuospatial processing, indicated by the Judgment of Line Orientation (JLO), is commonly seen in individuals with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1). Nevertheless, few studies have examined the neural activity associated with visuospatial processing in NF-1, in particular, during a JLO task. This study used functional neuroimaging to explore differences in volume of activation in predefined regions of interest between 13 individuals with NF-1 and 13 controls while performing an analogue JLO task. We hypothesized that participants with NF-1 would show anomalous right hemisphere activation and therefore would recruit regions within the left hemisphere to complete the task. Multivariate analyses of variance were used to test for differences between groups in frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital regions. Results indicate that, as predicted, controls utilized various right hemisphere regions to complete the task, while the NF-1 group tended to recruit left hemisphere regions. These results suggest that the NF-1 group has an inefficient right hemisphere network. An additional unexpected finding was that the NF-1 group showed decreased volume of activation in primary visual cortex (BA 17). Future studies are needed to examine whether the decrease in primary visual cortex is related to a deficit in basic visual processing; findings could ultimately lead to a greater understanding of the nature of deficits in NF-1 and have implications for remediation.

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