Basic Visual Function and Cortical Thickness Patterns in Posterior Cortical Atrophy

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Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) is characterized by a progressive decline in higher-visual object and space processing, but the extent to which these deficits are underpinned by basic visual impairments is unknown. This study aimed to assess basic and higher-order visual deficits in 21 PCA patients. Basic visual skills including form detection and discrimination, color discrimination, motion coherence, and point localization were measured, and associations and dissociations between specific basic visual functions and measures of higher-order object and space perception were identified. All participants showed impairment in at least one aspect of basic visual processing. However, a number of dissociations between basic visual skills indicated a heterogeneous pattern of visual impairment among the PCA patients. Furthermore, basic visual impairments were associated with particular higher-order object and space perception deficits, but not with nonvisual parietal tasks, suggesting the specific involvement of visual networks in PCA. Cortical thickness analysis revealed trends toward lower cortical thickness in occipitotemporal (ventral) and occipitoparietal (dorsal) regions in patients with visuoperceptual and visuospatial deficits, respectively. However, there was also a lot of overlap in their patterns of cortical thinning. These findings suggest that different presentations of PCA represent points in a continuum of phenotypical variation.

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