Grasso P. A., Gallina J. & Bertini C. (2020).
Shaping the visual system: cortical and subcortical plasticity in the intact and the lesioned brain.
Visual system is endowed with an incredibly complex organization composed of multiple visual pathway affording both hierarchical and parallel processing. Even if most of the visual information is conveyed by the retina to the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus and then to primary visual cortex, a wealth of alternative subcortical pathways is present. This complex organization is experience dependent and retains plastic properties throughout the lifespan enabling the system with a continuous update of its functions in response to variable external needs. Changes can be induced by several factors including learning and experience but can also be promoted by the use non-invasive brain stimulation techniques. Furthermore, besides the astonishing ability of our visual system to spontaneously reorganize after injuries, we now know that the exposure to specific rehabilitative training can produce not only important functional modifications but also long-lasting changes within cortical and subcortical structures. The present review aims to update and address the current state of the art on these topics gathering studies that reported relevant modifications of visual functioning together with plastic changes within cortical and subcortical structures both in the healthy and in the lesioned visual system.