Optometry and Vision Science

Patient-friendly mapping of human visual cortex


Dr Sam Schwarzkopf
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Project code: MHS003

Many neurological and psychiatric conditions are associated with visual dysfunction. For better understanding such disorders it is therefore critical to understand how brain areas devoted to visual processing are affected. Unfortunately, current brain imaging techniques for measuring this intricate architecture are often confounded and difficult to apply in patients. This project will explore an approach for constructing maps from the connectivity between brain regions – and between the brain and the eyes themselves. Unlike current methods which require participants to maintain stable eye position and view simple images, our method allows them to freely view entertaining movies. This approach would considerably reduce the unpleasant experience of these experiments for patients, control confounds with conventional methods, and has the potential for revolutionising visual brain mapping not only in neurological and psychiatric patients but also in young children, aging individuals, and other special populations with limited ability to comply with task instructions. This will be a collaboration with vision researchers in Cardiff University, Wales, UK, with whom we have already piloted the procedures. The basic framework for the analysis techniques is therefore already in place. Depending on progress we will also collaborate with researchers from the Liggins Institute as well as Ben Thompson at University of Waterloo, Ontario, to expand these analysis to brain images of infants and with Tessa Dekker at University College London to apply it to young children.