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Repetitive Training Offers Benefits After Cortex Damage

Adults with damage to the primary visual cortex can improve global direction discrimination

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Repetitive training appears effective for improving visual motion processing in the blind field of adults with primary visual cortex (V1) damage, according to research published in the April 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Krystel R. Huxlin, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester Eye Institute in Rochester, N.Y., and colleagues analyzed data from five adults with unilateral cortical damage. All were recruited up to 40 months after having strokes that damaged V1 unilaterally. After baseline testing, subjects underwent nine to 18 months of visual retraining at home using a computerized system that showed moving dots.

After the training, retesting revealed that the subjects showed normal direction range thresholds at the retrained locations, the researchers report. Motion signal thresholds and contrast sensitivity for direction also appeared improved in the subjects' trained blind field areas.

"These data provide evidence for a surprisingly large amount of perceptual plasticity in the adult visual system after damage to one of its principal components. They also demonstrate a clear benefit of repetitively forcing the damaged visual circuitry to discriminate complex, moving stimuli to recover multiple aspects of conscious visual perception. If these results continue to be supported, they offer renewed optimism for the development of effective rehabilitation strategies to treat visual deficits resulting from permanent visual cortical damage in adulthood," the authors conclude.

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