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Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Mar;29(5):1064-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06650.x.

Deficient responses from the lateral geniculate nucleus in humans with amblyopia.

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McGill Vision Research (H4.14), Department of Ophthalmology, McGill University, 687 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, QC H3A1A1, Canada.


Amblyopia or lazy eye is the most common cause of uniocular blindness in adults. It is caused by a disruption to normal visual development as a consequence of unmatched inputs from the two eyes in early life, arising from a turned eye (strabismus), unequal refractive error (anisometropia) or form deprivation (e.g. cataract). Animal models based on extracellular recordings in anesthetized animals suggest that the earliest site of the anomaly in the primate visual pathway is the primary visual cortex (corresponding to the striate cortex, cytoarchitectonic area 17 and area V1), which is where inputs from the two eyes are first combined in an excitatory fashion, whereas more distal and monocular processing structures such as the retina and lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) are normal. Using high-field functional magnetic resonance imaging in a group of human adults with amblyopia, we demonstrate that functional deficits are first observable at a thalamic level, that of the LGN. Our results suggest the need to re-evaluate the current models of amblyopia that are based on the assumption of a purely cortical dysfunction, as well as the role for the LGN in visual development.

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