Plasticity and Stability of the Visual System in Human Achiasma

Michael B. Hoffmann, Falko R. Kaule, Netta Levin, Yoichiro Masuda, Anil Kumar, Irene Gottlob, Hiroshi Horiguchi, Robert F. Dougherty, Joerg Stadler, Barbara Wolynski, Oliver Speck, Martin Kanowski, Yaping J. Liao, Brian A. Wandell, Serge O. Dumoulin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The absence of the optic chiasm is an extraordinary and extreme abnormality in the nervous system. The abnormality produces highly atypical functional responses in the cortex, including overlapping hemifield representations and bilateral population receptive fields in both striate and extrastriate visual cortex. Even in the presence of these large functional abnormalities, the effect on visual perception and daily life is not easily detected. Here, we demonstrate that in two achiasmic humans the gross topography of the geniculostriate and occipital callosal connections remains largely unaltered. We conclude that visual function is preserved by reorganization of intracortical connections instead of large-scale reorganizations of the visual cortex. Thus, developmental mechanisms of local wiring within cortical maps compensate for the improper gross wiring to preserve function in human achiasma.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)393-401
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 9 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the subjects for their patience and cooperation. We would also like to express our appreciation to Greg Corrado and Julian Brown for the use of their eye-tracker and their help. This work was supported by German Research Foundation (DFG) HO 2002/10-1 (M.B.H.), NIH EY 03164 (B.A.W.), and Marie Curie Reintegration Grant #231027 (S.O.D.).


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