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The spatiotemporal profiles of visual processing are normally distributed in two temporal phases, each lasting about 100 ms. Within each phase, cortical processing begins in V1 and traverses the visual cortical hierarchy. However, the causal role of V1 in starting each of these two phases is unknown. Here we used magnetoencephalography to study the spatiotemporal profiles of visual processing and the causal contribution of V1 in three neurologically intact participants and in a rare patient (GY) with unilateral destruction of V1, in whom residual visual functions mediated by the extra-geniculostriate pathways have been reported. In healthy subjects, visual processing in the first 200 ms post-stimulus onset proceeded in the two usual phases. Normally perceived stimuli in the left hemifield of GY elicited a spatiotemporal profile in the intact right hemisphere that closely matched that of healthy subjects. However, stimuli presented in the cortically blind hemifield produced no detectable response during the first phase of processing, indicating that the responses in extrastriate visual areas during this phase are determined by the feedforward progression of activity initiated in V1. The first responses occurred during the second processing phase, in the ipsilesional high-level visual areas. The activity then spread forward toward higher-level areas and backward toward lower-level areas. However, in contrast to responses in the intact hemisphere, the back-propagated activity in the early visual cortex did not exhibit the classic retinotopic organization and did not have well-defined response peaks.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1464 - 1477


Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Female, Humans, Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetoencephalography, Male, Middle Aged, Photic Stimulation, Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted, Visual Cortex, Visual Perception