Functional neural substrates of posterior cortical atrophy patients

H. Shames, N. Raz, Netta Levin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) is a neurodegenerative syndrome in which the most pronounced pathologic involvement is in the occipito-parietal visual regions. Herein, we aimed to better define the cortical reflection of this unique syndrome using a thorough battery of behavioral and functional MRI (fMRI) tests. Eight PCA patients underwent extensive testing to map their visual deficits. Assessments included visual functions associated with lower and higher components of the cortical hierarchy, as well as dorsal- and ventral-related cortical functions. fMRI was performed on five patients to examine the neuronal substrate of their visual functions. The PCA patient cohort exhibited stereopsis, saccadic eye movements and higher dorsal stream-related functional impairments, including simultant perception, image orientation, figure-from-ground segregation, closure and spatial orientation. In accordance with the behavioral findings, fMRI revealed intact activation in the ventral visual regions of face and object perception while more dorsal aspects of perception, including motion and gestalt perception, revealed impaired patterns of activity. In most of the patients, there was a lack of activity in the word form area, which is known to be linked to reading disorders. Finally, there was evidence of reduced cortical representation of the peripheral visual field, corresponding to the behaviorally assessed peripheral visual deficit. The findings are discussed in the context of networks extending from parietal regions, which mediate navigationally related processing, visually guided actions, eye movement control and working memory, suggesting that damage to these networks might explain the wide range of deficits in PCA patients.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1751-1761
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 25 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Dorsal stream
  • Functional MRI
  • Parietal lobe
  • Posterior cortical atrophy
  • Ventral stream


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