Hemifield columns co-opt ocular dominance column structure in human achiasma
In the absence of an optic chiasm, visual input to the right eye is represented in primary visual cortex (V1) in the right hemisphere, while visual input to the left eye activates V1 in the left hemisphere. Retinotopic mapping In V1 reveals that in each hemisphere left and right visual hemifield representations are overlaid (Hoffmann et al., 2012). To explain how overlapping hemifield representations in V1 do not impair vision, we tested the hypothesis that visual projections from nasal and temporal retina create interdigitated left and right visual hemifield representations in V1, similar to the ocular dominance columns observed in neurotypical subjects (Victor et al., 2000). We used high-resolution fMRI at 7 T to measure the spatial distribution of responses to left- and right-hemifield stimulation in one achiasmic subject. T2-weighted 2D Spin Echo images were acquired at 0.8 mm isotropic resolution. The left eye was occluded. To the right eye, a presentation of flickering checkerboards alternated between the left and right visual fields in a blocked stimulus design. The participant performed a demanding orientation-discrimination task at fixation. A general linear model was used to estimate the preference of voxels in V1 to left- and right-hemifield stimulation. The spatial distribution of voxels with significant preference for each hemifield showed interdigitated clusters which densely packed V1 in the right hemisphere. The spatial distribution of hemifield-preference voxels in the achiasmic subject was stable between two days of testing and comparable in scale to that of human ocular dominance columns. These results are the first in vivo evidence showing that visual hemifield representations interdigitate in achiasmic V1 following a similar developmental course to that of ocular dominance columns in V1 with intact optic chiasm.