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Altered functional connectivity of primary visual cortex in late blindness

Authors Wen Z, Zhou FQ, Huang X, Dan HD, Xie BJ, Shen Y

Received 13 August 2018

Accepted for publication 31 October 2018

Published 3 December 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 3317—3327


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Zhi Wen,1,* Fu-Qing Zhou,2,* Xin Huang,3 Han Dong Dan,3 Bao-Jun Xie,1 Yin Shen3

1Department of Radiology, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430060, Hubei, China; 2Department of Radiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Jiangxi Province Medical Imaging Research Institute, Nanchang, 330006, Jiangxi, China; 3Eye Center, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430060, Hubei, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Previous studies demonstrated that early blindness is associated with abnormal intrinsic functional connectivity (FC) between the primary visual cortex (V1) and other sensory areas. However, the V1 pattern of spontaneous neural activity occurring in late blindness (LB) remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the intrinsic FC patterns of V1 in LB.
Materials and methods: Thirty LB individuals (18 males and 12 females; mean age: 38.76±14.43 years) and 30 sighted controls (SCs) individuals (18 males and 12 females; mean age: 38.67±13.85 years) closely matched for age, sex, and education, underwent resting-state magnetic resonance imaging scans. Region of interest analysis was performed to extract the correlation coefficient matrix among each pair of Brodmann area (BA) 17 and FC between V1 and vision-related subcortical nuclei.
Results: Compared with SCs, LB individuals showed a decreased FC between the left V1 and the bilateral cuneus (CUN)/lingual gyrus (LGG)/calcarine (CAL) (BA 18/19/30) and left precentral gyrus (PreCG) and the postcentral gyrus (PostCG) (BA 2/3/4). Also, LB individuals showed a decreased FC between the right V1 and the bilateral CUN/LGG/CAL (BA 18/19/30) and the left PreCG and PostCG (BA 2/3/4/6) (voxel-level: P<0.01, cluster-level: P<0.05). Meanwhile, LB individuals showed a decreased FC between the left V1 and the right V1 and increased FC between the left V1 and the right superior colliculus, the right V1, and the left hippocampus (P<0.05). Moreover, a positive correlation was observed between the onset age of blindness and FC values in V1 to CUN/LGG/CAL in LB.
Conclusion: Our results highlighted that LB induces a decreased FC between V1 and higher visual areas, motor cortices, and somatosensory cortices at rest. This might indicate that LB humans could present with impaired top-down modulations, visual imagery, and vision-motor function.

Keywords: late blindness, intrinsic functional connectivity, primary visual area, functional magnetic resonance imaging

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