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J Cogn Neurosci. 2010 Apr;22(4):670-82. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21217.

Blindsight mediated by an S-cone-independent collicular pathway: an fMRI study in hemispherectomized subjects.

Author information

1
McGill University, Canada. sandra@bic.mni.mcgill.ca

Abstract

The purpose of our study was to investigate the ability to process achromatic and short-wavelength-sensitive cone (S-cone)-isolating (blue-yellow) stimuli in the blind visual field of hemispherectomized subjects and to demonstrate that blindsight is mediated by a collicular pathway that is independent of S-cone inputs. Blindsight has been described as the ability to respond to visual stimuli in the blind visual field without conscious awareness [Weiskrantz, L., Warrington, E. K., Sanders, M. D., & Marshall, J. Visual capacity in the hemianopic field following a restricted occipital ablation. Brain, 97, 709-728, 1974]. The roles of the subcortical neural structures in blindsight, such as the pulvinar and the superior colliculus, have been debated and an underlying neural correlate has yet to be confirmed. Using fMRI, we tested the ability to process visual stimuli that isolated the achromatic and short-wavelength-sensitive (S-)-cone pathways in three subjects: one control subject, one hemispherectomized subject with blindsight, and one hemispherectomized subject without blindsight. We demonstrated that (1) achromatic and S-cone-isolating stimuli presented to the normal visual hemifield of hemispherectomized subjects and to both visual hemifields of the control subject activated contralateral visual areas (V1/V2), as expected; (2) achromatic stimulus presentation but not S-cone-isolating stimulus presentation to the blind hemifield of the subject with blindsight activated visual areas FEF/V5; (3) whereas the cortical activation of the control subject was enhanced by an additional stimulus (achromatic and S-cone isolating) presented in the contralateral visual field, activation pattern of the subject with blindsight was enhanced by achromatic stimuli only. We conclude that the human superior colliculus is blind to the S-cone-isolating stimuli, and blindsight is mediated by an S-cone-independent collicular pathway.

PMID:
19309296
DOI:
10.1162/jocn.2009.21217
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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