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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) have been the principal neuroimaging tools used to assess the site and nature of cortical deficits in human amblyopia. A review of this growing body of work is presented here with particular reference to various controversial issues, including whether or not the primary visual cortex is dysfunctional, the involvement of higher-order visual areas, neural differences between strabismic and anisometropic amblyopes, and the effects of modern-day drug treatments. We also present our own recent MEG work in which we used the analysis technique of synthetic aperture magnetometry (SAM) to examine the effects of strabismic amblyopia on cortical function. Our results provide evidence that the neuronal assembly associated with form perception in the extrastriate cortex may be dysfunctional in amblyopia, and that the nature of this dysfunction may relate to a change in the normal temporal pattern of neuronal discharges. Based on these results and existing literature, we conclude that a number of cortical areas show reduced levels of activation in amblyopia, including primary and secondary visual areas and regions within the parieto-occipital cortex and ventral temporal cortex.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





21 - 35


Amblyopia, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetoencephalography, Positron-Emission Tomography, Reproducibility of Results, Visual Cortex