1. Neuroscience
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Functional reallocation of sensory processing resources caused by long-term neural adaptation to altered optics

  1. Antoine Barbot  Is a corresponding author
  2. Woon-Ju Park
  3. Cherlyn J Ng
  4. Ru-Yuan Zhang
  5. Krystel R Huxlin
  6. Duje Tadin
  7. Geunyoung Yoon  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Rochester Medical Center, United States
  2. University of Rochester, United States
  3. University of Minnesota, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e58734 doi: 10.7554/eLife.58734

Abstract

The eye's optics are a major determinant of visual perception. Elucidating how long-term exposure to optical defects affects visual processing is key for understanding the capacity for, and limits of, sensory plasticity. Here, we show evidence of functional reallocation of sensory processing resources following long-term exposure to poor optical quality. Using adaptive optics to bypass all optical defects, we assessed visual processing in neurotypically-developed adults with healthy eyes and with keratoconus—a corneal disease causing severe optical aberrations. Under fully-corrected optical conditions, keratoconus patients showed altered contrast sensitivity, with impaired sensitivity for fine spatial details and better-than-typical sensitivity for coarse details. Both gains and losses in sensitivity were more pronounced in patients experiencing poorer optical quality in their daily life, and mediated by changes in signal enhancement mechanisms. These findings show that adult neural processing adapts to better match the changes in sensory inputs caused by long-term exposure to altered optics.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Antoine Barbot

    Flaum Eye Institute, Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, United States
    For correspondence
    antoine.barbot@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3301-4279
  2. Woon-Ju Park

    Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Cherlyn J Ng

    Flaum Eye Institute, Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Ru-Yuan Zhang

    Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, Department of Radiology, University of Minnesota, North Bethesda, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0654-715X
  5. Krystel R Huxlin

    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Duje Tadin

    Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1571-5589
  7. Geunyoung Yoon

    Flaum Eye Institute, Center for Visual Science, and The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, United States
    For correspondence
    gyoon@ur.rochester.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

National Institutes of Health (R01 EY014999)

  • Krystel R Huxlin
  • Duje Tadin
  • Geunyoung Yoon

National Institutes of Health (R01 EY027314)

  • Antoine Barbot
  • Krystel R Huxlin
  • Duje Tadin

National Institutes of Health (P30 EY001319)

  • Krystel R Huxlin
  • Duje Tadin
  • Geunyoung Yoon

Research to Prevent Blindness

  • Krystel R Huxlin
  • Duje Tadin
  • Geunyoung Yoon

Schmitt Program on Integrative Neuroscience (Postdoctoral Fellowship)

  • Antoine Barbot

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: All experimental protocols were conducted according to the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by The Research Subjects Review Board at the University of Rochester Medical Center (#53149). Informed written consent was obtained from all participants prior to participation. Participants were compensated $12/hour.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Ming Meng, South China Normal University, China

Publication history

  1. Received: May 9, 2020
  2. Accepted: February 10, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 22, 2021 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2021, Barbot et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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