Indexed on: 01 Jun '18Published on: 01 Jun '18Published in: Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
There is little understanding of the structural underpinnings of the functional reorganization of the cortex in the congenitally blind human. Taking advantage of the extensive characterization of the macaque visual system, we examine in macaque the influence of congenital blindness resulting from the removal of the retina during in utero development. This effectively removes the normal influence of the thalamus on cortical development leading to an induced hybrid cortex (HC) combining features of primary visual and extrastriate cortex. Retrograde tracers injected in HC reveal a local, intrinsic connectivity characteristic of higher order areas and show that the HC receives a uniquely strong, purely feedforward projection from striate cortex but no ectopic inputs, except from subiculum, and entorhinal cortex. Statistical modeling of quantitative connectivity data shows that HC is relatively high in the cortical hierarchy and receives a reinforced input from ventral stream areas while the overall organization of the functional streams are conserved. The directed and weighted anophthalmic cortical graph from the present study can be used to construct dynamic and structural models. These findings show how the sensory periphery governs cortical phenotype and reveal the importance of developmental arealization for understanding the functional reorganization in congenital blindness.