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Biochemical processes underpin the structure and function of the visual cortex, yet our understanding of the fundamental neurochemistry of the visual brain is incomplete. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) is a non-invasive brain imaging tool that allows chemical quantification of living tissue by detecting minute differences in the resonant frequency of molecules. Application of MRS in the human brain in vivo has advanced our understanding of how the visual brain consumes energy to support neural function, how its neural substrates change as a result of disease or dysfunction, and how neural populations signal during perception and plasticity. The aim of this review is to provide an entry point to researchers interested in investigating the neurochemistry of the visual system using in vivo measurements. We provide a basic overview of MRS principles, and then discuss recent findings in four topics of vision science: (i) visual perception, plasticity in the (ii) healthy and (iii) dysfunctional visual system, and (iv) during visual stimulation. Taken together, evidence suggests that the neurochemistry of the visual system provides important novel insights into how we perceive the world.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Struct Funct

Publication Date



Cortical inhibition, Dysfunction, GABA, Glutamate, Magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Perception, Plasticity, Visual cortex