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Front Psychol. 2016 Dec 26;7:1958. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01958. eCollection 2016.

Cerebral versus Ocular Visual Impairment: The Impact on Developmental Neuroplasticity.

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GIDFYS, European University Miguel de Cervantes Valladolid, Spain.
GIDFYS, European University Miguel de CervantesValladolid, Spain; Research Institute of Hospital 12 de Octubre (i+12)Madrid, Spain.
Refractive Surgery and Visual Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Instituto Universitario de Oftalmobiología Aplicada, Eye Institute Valladolid, Spain.
Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, USA.


Cortical/cerebral visual impairment (CVI) is clinically defined as significant visual dysfunction caused by injury to visual pathways and structures occurring during early perinatal development. Depending on the location and extent of damage, children with CVI often present with a myriad of visual deficits including decreased visual acuity and impaired visual field function. Most striking, however, are impairments in visual processing and attention which have a significant impact on learning, development, and independence. Within the educational arena, current evidence suggests that strategies designed for individuals with ocular visual impairment are not effective in the case of CVI. We propose that this variance may be related to differences in compensatory neuroplasticity related to the type of visual impairment, as well as underlying alterations in brain structural connectivity. We discuss the etiology and nature of visual impairments related to CVI, and how advanced neuroimaging techniques (i.e., diffusion-based imaging) may help uncover differences between ocular and cerebral causes of visual dysfunction. Revealing these differences may help in developing future strategies for the education and rehabilitation of individuals living with visual impairment.


cerebral; connectivity; cortical; ocular blindness; visual impairment

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