Date of Award

Summer 2007

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

DeYoe, Edgar A.

Second Advisor

Ropella, Kristina M.

Third Advisor

Remler, Bernd

Abstract

The overall goal of this project is to develop a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) application for the assessment of brain-related visual pathology in humans. Brain-related pathologies such as tumors, trauma, stroke, arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) that affect the visual cortex may lead to visual impairments such as complete or partial blindness. In virtually all cases we lack a comprehensive understanding of the relationships between pathology, cortical dysfunction and sensory impairment. Patients with visual cortex maladies may experience partial blindness as restricted scotomata (isolated areas of diminished vision) within the field of view where contrast sensitivity may be reduced or absent. These zones of reduced sensitivity may be recoverable, so accurately detecting them may be important. In addition, preservation of intact cortical function is important in planning invasive treatment of tumors and operable pathologies. Psychophysical / behavioral techniques have been successful in diagnosing diseases that cause visual impairment, but they are of limited use for pre-surgical planning since they do not identify specific brain tissue that may be at risk. Thus, establishing methods that link behavior with fMRI activation in the brain potentially can be of great assistance in neurosurgery and clinical diagnosis. The aim of this study is to establish an fMRI correlate of impaired visual sensitivity in cases of brain pathology. We will be using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to evaluate the relationship between perception and cortical activity. The long range goal of our lab is to assess the effect of brain-related pathologies on the brain mechanisms underlying visual sensitivity.

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