fMRI of Human Visual Pathways

  • Edgar A. DeYoe
  • John L. Ulmer
  • Wade Mueller
  • Lotfi Hacein-Bey
  • Viktor Szeder
  • Mary Jo Maciejewski
  • Karen Medler
  • Danielle Reitsma
  • Jedediah Mathis


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the human brain provides images of changes in local blood flow and oxygenation that are evoked by sensory, motor, or cognitive events. Functional MRI has been used since 1991 [1] to identify areas of the brain that respond to visual stimulation and the performance of vision-related tasks. Increasingly, fMRI is accompanied by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which provides images of the speed and direction of diffusion of water molecules in the brain. Fortuitously, this allows remarkable differentiation of cerebral white mater and the delineation of a variety of major white matter tracts including vision-related pathways such as the optic radiations. This chapter focuses primarily on fMRI, but DTI data are also discussed where relevant. Together, the two methods provide a wealth of information about the anatomical and functional status of key components of the visual system in individual patients even in the presence of pathology. For example, an imaging-based map of the visual system can be helpful for planning and guiding surgical resection of tumors impacting critical vision-related brain structures. This is especially true when mass effects or previous surgeries have distorted the normal anatomy making it difficult to know where key structures are located and if they are still functional. In difficult cases, identifying the region of “closest approach” of a planned resection to the cortical representation of central vision or to the optic radiations can help to minimize the risk to eloquent neural tissue and thereby avoid significant treatment-induced vision loss while still permitting maximum therapeutic effect.


Visual Field Diffusion Tensor Imaging Occipital Lobe Visual Area Primary Visual Cortex 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Acknowledgments and Disclosure

This work supported by NIH grants R42CA113186 and R01EB007827. Authors E.A.D. and J.U. are consultants and members of the board of directors of Prism Clinical Imaging Inc.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edgar A. DeYoe
    • 1
  • John L. Ulmer
    • 2
  • Wade Mueller
    • 3
  • Lotfi Hacein-Bey
    • 4
  • Viktor Szeder
    • 5
  • Mary Jo Maciejewski
    • 6
  • Karen Medler
    • 7
  • Danielle Reitsma
    • 1
  • Jedediah Mathis
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurosurgeryMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  4. 4.Radiological Associates of Sacramento Medical Group Inc.SacramentoUSA
  5. 5.Division of Stroke, Department of NeurologyColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Center for Brain HealthUniversity of Texas at DallasDallasUSA
  7. 7.Neurolab, Department of BiophysicsMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  8. 8.Department of Radiology (Neuro Lab)Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA

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