Correspondence between retinotopic cortical mapping and conventional functional and morphological assessment of retinal disease

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The present study describes retinotopic mapping of the primary visual cortex using functional MRI (fMRI) in patients with retinal disease. It addresses the relationship between fMRI data and data obtained by conventional assessment including microperimetry (MP) and structural imaging.


Initial testing involved eight patients with central retinal disease (Stargardt disease, STGD) and eight with peripheral retinal disease (retinitis pigmentosa, RP), who were examined using fMRI and MP (Nidek MP-1). All had a secure clinical diagnosis supported by electrophysiological data. fMRI used population-receptive field (pRF) mapping to provide retinotopic data that were then compared with the results of MP, optical coherence tomography and fundus autofluorescence imaging.


Full analysis, following assessment of fMRI data reliability criteria, was performed in five patients with STGD and seven patients with RP; unstable fixation was responsible for unreliable pRF measurements in three patients excluded from final analysis. The macular regions in patients with STGD with central visual field defects and outer retinal atrophy (ORA) at the macula correlated well with pRF coverage maps showing reduced density of activated voxels at the occipital pole. Patients with RP exhibited peripheral ORA and concentric visual field defects both on MP and pRF mapping. Anterior V1 voxels, corresponding to peripheral regions, showed no significant activation. Correspondence between MP and pRF mapping was quantified by calculating the simple matching coefficient.


Retinotopic maps acquired by fMRI provide a valuable adjunct in the assessment of retinal dysfunction. The addition of microperimetric data to pRF maps allowed better assessment of macular function than MP alone. Unlike MP, pRF mapping provides objective data independent of psychophysical perception from the patient.

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