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Erica N. Woertz, Melissa A. Wilk, Ethan J. Duwell, Jedidiah R. Mathis, Joseph Carroll, Edgar A. DeYoe; The relationship between retinal cone density and cortical magnification in human albinism. Journal of Vision 2020;20(6):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.6.10.
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The human fovea lies at the center of the retina and supports high-acuity vision. In normal visual system development, the highest acuity is correlated with both a high density of cone photoreceptors in the fovea and a magnified retinotopic representation of the fovea in the visual cortex. Both cone density and the cortical area dedicated to each degree of visual space—the latter describing cortical magnification (CM)—steadily decrease with increasing eccentricity from the fovea. In albinism, peak cone density at the fovea and visual acuity are decreased, but seem to be within normal limits in the periphery, thus providing a model to explore the correlation between retinal structure, cortical structure, and behavior. Here, we used adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy to assess retinal cone density and functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure CM in the primary visual cortex of normal controls and individuals with albinism. We find that retinotopic organization is more varied among individuals with albinism than previously appreciated. Additionally, CM outside the fovea is similar to that in controls, but also more variable. CM in albinism and controls exceeds that which might be predicted based on cone density alone, but is more accurately predicted by retinal ganglion cell density. This finding suggests that decreased foveal cone density in albinism may be partially counteracted by nonuniform connectivity between cones and their downstream signaling partners. Together, these results emphasize that central as well as retinal factors must be included to provide a complete picture of aberrant structure and function in albinism.
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