Topography of the cortical representation of the visual field in humans with retinal lesions

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Psychology

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Technical Summary

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects the elderly and is the leading cause of blindness in the UK, Europe and North America. More rarely, younger patients can be affected similarly by other diseases that are grouped under the heading of Juvenile Macular Degeneration (JMD). As patients lose visual function in the macula, everyday tasks that require normal visual acuity become extremely difficult. Over time, some patients develop strategies to reduce the impact of their visual loss. One such adaptation is the development of the use of an eccentric region of retina for fixation, known as the Preferred Retinal Locus (PRL). It has been shown that the PRL is used as the oculomotor reference point for visual tasks and a stable and consistent PRL leads to improved reading. Although development of a PRL leads to improved visual performance, there is no information concerning the neural mechanisms that underlie this behavioural adaptation. One hypothesis is that the visual cortex reorganizes to confer additional resources on the representation of the retina that becomes the PRL. This hypothesis has been favoured because work on animal models revealed reorganization of primary visual cortex following induced central retinal lesions, with cortex originally devoted to representing central visual field being remapped to represent more eccentric locations. More recently fMRI evidence of similar cortical reorganization was found in human, although the retinal lesions (caused by the absence of cone photoreceptors) were present at birth. Our aim is to determine whether cortical reorganization occurs in patients with retinal lesions caused by AMD and JMD and whether there is a relationship between the acquisition of a PRL and cortical reorganization. We will use fMRI to perform retinotopic mapping experiments in patients with established PRLs to determine whether cortical reorganization is present, when in the disease process it occurs and whether its location is correlated with the position of the PRL. In a longitudinal study we will use fMRI to determine whether cortical reorganization is temporally correlated with the acquisition of a PRL. We aim therefore to evaluate the fundamental plasticity of the human visual cortex and how it relates to behavioural adaptations to blindness caused by disease of the macula. Evaluating the pattern of when and where reorganization occurs in the human brain and how it is related to behaviour is likely to aid the future design and implementation of rehabilitation for patients.

Publications

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Bridge H (2014) Changes in brain morphology in albinism reflect reduced visual acuity. in Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior

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Brown HD (2016) Using magnetic resonance imaging to assess visual deficits: a review. in Ophthalmic & physiological optics : the journal of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians (Optometrists)

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Crossland MD (2008) The effect of age and fixation instability on retinotopic mapping of primary visual cortex. in Investigative ophthalmology & visual science

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Haak KV (2016) Preserved retinotopic brain connectivity in macular degeneration. in Ophthalmic & physiological optics : the journal of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians (Optometrists)

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Hernowo AT (2014) Morphometric analyses of the visual pathways in macular degeneration. in Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior

 
Description Collaborative International Research Centre (CIRC)
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of York 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2013 
End 07/2016
 
Description Departmental PhD Studentship funded by the Department of Psychology University of York
Amount £39,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of York 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2020
 
Description ITN NextGenVis
Amount € 3,600,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 641805 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 03/2015 
End 03/2019
 
Description Yorkshire Retina Society Equipment Grant
Amount £32,000 (GBP)
Organisation Yorkshire Retina Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2010 
End 02/2010
 
Description Cortical organization in AMD 
Organisation University Medical Center Gronigen
Country Netherlands 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Cutting edge data analyis allowig more sensitive assessment of cortical fuinction
Collaborator Contribution A visiting postdoc worked in the labs at York and was involved in work that was later published in Nature Neuroscience
Impact Baseler et al, 2011 Nature Neuroscience - see Publications Section Disciplines - Ophthalomogy and Psychology
Start Year 2010
 
Description 'Albinism: A Whistle-stop Tour' Talk to volunteers going to Tanzania 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact This lecture was given to members of SKIP (see below) in advance of their visit to Tanzania, where albinism is more common that here and more frequently encountered in an educational setting. The lecture outlined the visual deficits encountered by individuals with albinism and how SKIP members can be sensitive to them and offer help.

SKIP (Students for Kids International Projects) HYMS aims to improve the lives of children in Kibaha, Tanzania via sustainable interventions in health and education. We do this by working with a local NGO, MYODA, fundraising for them throughout the year and sending out volunteers to Kibaha to take part in our interventions every summer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description 'The Seeing Brain in Health and Disease' Festival of ideas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A public lecture presenting ideas about how the visual areas of the brain are configured in patients, who have lost their sight as a result of eye disease.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description 'Understanding what happens in the brain when vision is lost as a result of eye disease' YorSight meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Patients, carers and/or patient groups
Results and Impact Yorsight Conference arranged by the Wilberforce Trust is a meeting that shares research to a broad range of healthcare professionals and patients with sight difficulties.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Macular Disease Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation to patients

Patient awareness and interest in research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Open Day for individuals with sight loss 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Patients, carers and/or patient groups
Results and Impact Individuals with sight loss, along with charity support group representatives were invited to participate in an open day at which they had a chance to meet researchers and tour our facilities and ask questions. A series of talks were also given.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description PsychYork - part of the Festival of Ideas 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Open day demonstrating vision and simulations of vision loss.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public Lecture (BSA Aberdeen) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Excellent public engagement with lively Q&A session.

Public engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The representation and processing of contour and surface in the human brain 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 'The representation and processing of contour and surface in the human brain' Was a talk given to sixth form students from lower socio-economic areas. The idea was to engage these individuals in continuing education by introducing them to the material to delivery of that material that they could expect at university.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit from Institute of Physics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Tour and talks to Physics teachers about imaging and vision.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Yorkshire Retina Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 100 Ophtalmologists and health care professionals in Ophthalomology Departments attended a lecture showing results of brain activity in patients with age-ralted macular degeneration.

Interest from Ophthalmologist in using brain imaging as an investigative tool and in assessing treatments for visual loss.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009