Journal of Neurology and Neuroscience

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Blindsight: The Anatomical and Functional Post-Injury Neural Plasticity of The Visual System

Nuzzi R, Buschini E, Monteu F and Vercelli A

The "blindsight" is the demonstrated ability of some patients with cortical blindness to respond to a visual stimulus presented in the corresponding visual field area, without perceiving it consciously. Our study was based on the use of neural tracers injected into the lateral geniculate body of animals from which the primary visual cortex was removed at birth. The neurons of the lateral geniculate body that survived the deprivation of their target projected elsewhere and probably underwent a reorganization of their efferent. Inserting the tracer in the neurons of the lateral geniculate body, our intention was to analyze the reorganization and the distribution of axonal projections between the cortex and the thalamus. The second purpose of the study was to analyze the role of JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase) in the reorganization of neuronal fibers after cortical ablation. By administering the inhibitor peptide, D-JNKI-1, the purpose was to examine how the cortical afferents that came from the surviving cells in the lateral geniculate body after cortical ablation arranged themselves. The intent of these studies was to try to use to our advantage the possibilities that result from plastic potentials that the nervous system has, to a greater or lesser extent, during all of its life. By the use of inhibitors, such as D-JNKI-1 we have shown that as a result of a lesion the neuronal death can be reduced and that a greater number of cells can be kept alive, each of which is potentially capable of emitting projections able to regroup to compensate the losses caused by the injury.