Cortical representation of space around the blind spot

Holger Awater, Jess R. Kerlin, Karla K. Evans, Frank Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The neural mechanism that mediates perceptual filling-in of the blind spot is still under discussion. One hypothesis proposes that the cortical representation of the blind spot is activated only under conditions that elicit perceptual filling-in and requires congruent stimulation on both sides of the blind spot. Alternatively, the passive remapping hypothesis proposes that inputs from regions surrounding the blind spot infiltrate the representation of the blind spot in cortex. This theory predicts that independent stimuli presented to the left and right of the blind spot should lead to neighboring/overlapping activations in visual cortex when the blind-spot eye is stimulated but separated activations when the fellow eye is stimulated. Using functional MRI, we directly tested the remapping hypothesis by presenting flickering checkerboard wedges to the left or right of the spatial location of the blind spot, either to the blind-spot eye or to the fellow eye. Irrespective of which eye was stimulated, we found separate activations corresponding to the left and right wedges. We identified the centroid of the activations on a cortical flat map and measured the distance between activations. Distance measures of the cortical gap across the blind spot were accurate and reliable (mean distance: 6-8 mm across subjects, SD approximately 1 mm within subjects). Contrary to the predictions of the remapping hypothesis, cortical distances between activations to the two wedges were equally large for the blind-spot eye and fellow eye in areas V1 and V2/V3. Remapping therefore appears unlikely to account for perceptual filling-in at an early cortical level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3314-3324
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Net
  • Optic Disk
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Cortex
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Pathways
  • Visual Perception

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