Categories: Research

Blindness and the Brain: 
A Multi-Disciplinary Initiative

Scientists Investigate the Relationship Between Human Connectomes (Brain Mapping) and Eye Diseases to Create the Next Generation of Sight Restoration Therapies

Vision researchers at USC will bridge the gap between basic science and translational research to better understand how blindness affects the brain. Given the variability in brain structure and function between individuals, a given eye disease may impact each patient differently. Scientists will combine advanced retinal imaging, focusing on diseased retinal tissue, with the brain- mapping techniques developed in the Human Connectome Project. Novel yet robust analytical methods will be used to better understand brain-eye connections in blinding diseases that may ultimately lead to the development of new treatments.

Fiber Orientation Distribution (FOD)-based visualization of the crossing fibers at the optic chiasm (junction where two optic nerves meet in the brain). Image courtesy of Yonggang Shi, PhD
Fiber Orientation Distribution (FOD)-based visualization of the crossing fibers at the optic chiasm (junction where two optic nerves meet in the brain). Image courtesy of Yonggang Shi, PhD

Vision researchers from four major institutions — USC Roski Eye Institute, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute and the University of Pennsylvania — received a $4 million grant from the National Eye Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health. This collaboration includes USC’s Bosco Tjan, PhD, principal investigator, co-investigators, Steven Cen, PhD, Meng Law, MBBS, and Yonggang Shi, PhD, five USC Roski Eye Institute faculty members (see below), as well as Geoffrey Aguirre, PhD, and Jessica I.W. Morgan, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania.

Optic Nerve Bundles Los Angeles Ophthalmology Experts
FOD-based reconstruction of the optic nerve bundles that split into ipsilateral and contralateral components at optic chiasm. Red: right contralateral; Blue: left contralateral; Yellow: right ipsilateral; Cyan: left ipsilateral. Image courtesy of Yonggang Shi, PhD

Next, read October is Eye Injury Awareness Month.

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