Cerebral versus Ocular Visual Impairment: The Impact on Developmental Neuroplasticity


Martín MBC, Santos-Lozano A, Martín-Hernández J, López-Miguel A, Maldonado M, Baladrón C, Bauer CM, Merabet LB. Cerebral versus Ocular Visual Impairment: The Impact on Developmental Neuroplasticity. Frontiers in Psychology. 2016;7 :1958. Copy at https://tinyurl.com/ycajxfjr


Cortical/cerebral visual impairment (CVI) is clinically defined as significant visual dysfunction caused by injury to visual pathways and structures occurring during early perinatal development. Depending on the location and extent of damage, children with CVI often present with a myriad of visual deficits including decreased visual acuity and impaired visual field function. Most striking however, are impairments in visual processing and attention which have a significant impact on learning, development, and independence. Within the educational arena, current evidence suggests that strategies designed for individuals with ocular visual impairment are not effective in the case of CVI. We propose that this variance may be related to differences in compensatory neuroplasticity related to the type of visual impairment, as well as underlying alterations in brain structural connectivity. We discuss the etiology and nature of visual impairments related to CVI, and how advanced neuroimaging techniques (i.e. diffusion-based imaging) may help uncover differences between ocular and cerebral causes of visual dysfunction. Revealing these differences may help in developing future strategies for the education and rehabilitation of individuals living with visual impairment.