Visual information from observing grasping movement in allocentric and egocentric perspectives: development in typical children, Exp Brain Res.

Development of the motor system lags behind that of the visual system and might delay some visual properties more closely linked to action. We measured the developmental trajectory of the discrimination of object size from observation of the biological motion of a grasping action in egocentric and allocentric viewpoints (observing action of others or self), in children and adolescents from 5 to 18 years of age. Children of 5-7 years of age performed the task at chance, indicating a delayed ability to understand the goal of the action. We found a progressive improvement in the ability of discrimination from 9 to 18 years, which parallels the development of fine motor control. Only after 9 years of age did we observe an advantage for the egocentric view, as previously reported for adults. Given that visual and haptic sensitivity of size discrimination, as well as biological motion, are mature in early adolescence, we interpret our results as reflecting immaturity of the influence of the motor system on visual perception.

Autism is associated with reduced ability to interpret grasping actions of others, Sci Rep, 1 (7), 12687.

We investigated the ability of children with ASD to discriminate a small cylinder from a large cube by observing a point-light movie of an actor grasping the object, either from an allocentric or egocentric viewpoint (observing action of others or self). Compared with typically developing controls, high functioning autistic children showed a strong selective impairment in this task, but only with the allocentric viewpoint, where thresholds were twice as high: egocentric thresholds were similar to age- and ability-matched controls. The magnitude of the impairment correlated strongly with the degree of symptomology (R2 = 0.5). The results suggest that children with ASD might be impaired in their ability to predict and infer the consequences of others’ movements, which could be related to the social-communicative deficits often reported in autism.

Plasticity of the human visual brain after an early cortical lesion, Neuropsychologia.

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In adults, partial damage to V1 or optic radiations abolishes perception in the corresponding part of the visual field, causing a scotoma. However, it is widely accepted that the developing cortex has superior capacities to reorganize following an early lesion to endorse adaptive plasticity. Here we report a single patient case (G.S.) with near normal central field vision despite a massive unilateral lesion to the optic radiations acquired early in life. The patient underwent surgical removal of a right hemisphere parieto-temporal-occipital atypical choroid plexus papilloma of the right lateral ventricle at four months of age, which presumably altered the visual pathways during in utero development. Both the tumor and surgery severely compromised the optic radiations. Residual vision of G.S. was tested psychophysically when the patient was 7 years old. We found a close-to-normal visual acuity and contrast sensitivity within the central 25 degrees and a great impairment in form and contrast vision in the far periphery (40-50 degrees ) of the left visual hemifield. BOLD response to full field luminance flicker was recorded from the primary visual cortex (V1) and in a region in the residual temporal-occipital region, presumably corresponding to the middle temporal complex (MT+), of the lesioned (right) hemisphere. A population receptive field analysis of the BOLD responses to contrast modulated stimuli revealed a retinotopic organization just for the MT+ region but not for the calcarine regions. Interestingly, consistent islands of ipsilateral activity were found in MT+ and in the parieto-occipital sulcus (POS) of the intact hemisphere. Probabilistic tractography revealed that optic radiations between LGN and V1 were very sparse in the lesioned hemisphere consistently with the post-surgery cerebral resection, while normal in the intact hemisphere. On the other hand, strong structural connections between MT+ and LGN were found in the lesioned hemisphere, while the equivalent tract in the spared hemisphere showed minimal structural connectivity. These results suggest that during development of the pathological brain, abnormal thalamic projections can lead to functional cortical changes, which may mediate functional recovery of vision.