Abnormal Brain Connectivity in the Primary Visual Pathway in Human Albinism
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In albinism, the ipsilateral projection of retinal axons is significantly reduced, and most fibres project contralaterally. The retina and optic chiasm have been proposed as sites for misrouting. The number of lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) relay neurons has been linked to LGN volume, suggesting a correlation between LGN size and the number of tracts traveling through the optic radiation (OR) to the primary visual cortex (V1). Using diffusion data and both deterministic and probabilistic tractography, we studied differences in OR between albinism and controls. Statistical analyses measured white matter integrity in areas corresponding to the OR, as well as LGN to V1 connectivity. Results revealed reduced white matter integrity and connectivity in the OR region in albinism compared to controls, suggesting altered structural development. Previous reports of smaller LGN and the altered thalamo-cortical connectivity reported here demonstrate the effect of misrouting on structural organization of the visual pathway in albinism.