Cortically-blind (CB) patients with stroke damage to the primary visual cortex (V1) lose conscious vision but many exhibit blindsight - the ability to unconsciously detect or discriminate moving or flickering targets inside their blind-fields. However, the prevalence of conscious visual abilities in CB is less clear. Having developed a new method to assess vision inside perimetrically-defined blind fields, we found that >50% of subacute CB patients (<6 months post-stroke) can consciously discriminate global motion inside their blind field. Here, we asked if they can also discriminate orientation of static targets, which do not typically elicit blindsight. In 10 subacute patients, we mapped their intact and blind hemifields using static, non-flickering, 1cpd Gabors across a wide range of luminance contrasts. Blind-field locations were labeled "preserved" if performance was >72.5% correct. Considering overall performance, only 1 participant had preserved static orientation perception in the blind-field. However, this increased to 4 participants when only considering performance at high contrasts (>50%), all of whom reported awareness of stimuli. Thus, early after V1 damage, conscious percepts for oriented, high-contrast, static targets can remain inside CB fields, similar in incidence to global motion discriminations. We are now testing additional patients to assess if these abilities persist into the chronic period and to detail their underlying neural substrates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems