June 2015
Volume 56, Issue 7
Free
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2015
Relationship between visual brain connectivity and duration of blindness depends on onset of visual deprivation
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kevin C Chan
    NeuroImaging Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
    UPMC Eye Center, Eye and Ear Institute, Ophthalmology and Visual Science Research Center, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Matthew C. Murphy
    NeuroImaging Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
    UPMC Eye Center, Eye and Ear Institute, Ophthalmology and Visual Science Research Center, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Christopher Fisher
    UPMC Eye Center, Eye and Ear Institute, Ophthalmology and Visual Science Research Center, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Seong-Gi Kim
    NeuroImaging Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
    Center for Neuroscience Imaging Research, Institute for Basic Science, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Korea (the Republic of)
  • Joel S Schuman
    UPMC Eye Center, Eye and Ear Institute, Ophthalmology and Visual Science Research Center, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
    Department of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Amy C. Nau
    UPMC Eye Center, Eye and Ear Institute, Ophthalmology and Visual Science Research Center, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships Kevin Chan, None; Matthew Murphy, None; Christopher Fisher, None; Seong-Gi Kim, None; Joel Schuman, Zeiss, Inc. (P); Amy Nau, None
  • Footnotes
    Support None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2015, Vol.56, 4079. doi:
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      Kevin C Chan, Matthew C. Murphy, Christopher Fisher, Seong-Gi Kim, Joel S Schuman, Amy C. Nau; Relationship between visual brain connectivity and duration of blindness depends on onset of visual deprivation. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(7 ):4079.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract
 
Purpose
 

Visual deprivation is known to induce plasticity of the visual system, which can be observed through alterations in functional brain connectivity (FC) by functional MRI (fMRI). How these FC changes accrue over time in congenital and acquired blindness remains uncertain. This work aimed to model the effects of prior visual experience on visual FC in blind subjects.

 
Methods
 

Seven congenitally blind and 11 age-matched acquired blind subjects underwent 8 minutes of fMRI at rest using a 3 Tesla scanner. A visual FC map was constructed for each subject by computing the average correlation coefficient between the extrastriate visual cortex and each voxel in the brain. We then examined the effects of visual experience by fitting these FC maps with a linear model with predictors including duration of blindness, a dummy variable for congenital blindness, and the interaction of these two effects. T score maps of these effects were thresholded at a family-wise error corrected p<0.01.

 
Results
 

From the maps of voxel-wise statistical testing (Fig. 1), more than 6 times as many voxels in the brain show a significant group by duration interaction effect (row 4) compared to a simple correlation with duration of blindness (row 2), indicating that the relationship between visual FC and duration of blindness is significantly different between congenital and acquired blindness. In general, the sign of the correlation between FC and duration of blindness in congenital subjects is opposite to that in acquired subjects. Similar findings are observed when using striate cortex instead of extrastriate cortex as the seed region of interest (data not shown).

 
Conclusions
 

This work represents an early step toward understanding plasticity in the visual system and how it depends upon prior visual experience. These results suggest that alterations in FC due to visual deprivation progress over time but in opposite directions between congenital and acquired blindness. Our findings indicate that longitudinal measures of FC and not only FC alone may be essential for characterizing the state of the visual system.  

 
Figure 1. Summary of voxel-wise statistical testing (FWE corrected p<0.01). Row 1: T score for average visual FC map for all subjects. Row 2: T score for significant relationship between FC and duration of blindness. Row 3: T score for group-wise differences. Row 4: T score for group by duration interaction.
 
Figure 1. Summary of voxel-wise statistical testing (FWE corrected p<0.01). Row 1: T score for average visual FC map for all subjects. Row 2: T score for significant relationship between FC and duration of blindness. Row 3: T score for group-wise differences. Row 4: T score for group by duration interaction.

 
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