A case of naturally occurring visual field loss in a chimpanzee with an arachnoid cyst
Takaaki Kaneko, Tomoko Sakai, Takako Miyabe-Nishiwaki, Masaki Tomonaga
Deficits in the occipital cortex have varying consequences among mammalian species. Such variations are indicative of evolutionary transitions in the striate cortical contribution to visually guided behavior. However, little is known about the role of the striate cortex in visually guided behavior in chimpanzees due to ethical concerns about invasive experiments and methodological limitations such as the inability to monitor gaze movements. We had the opportunity to study the behavioral consequences of a deficit in the occipital cortex in a chimpanzee with a naturally occurring arachnoid cyst in her right occipital lobe. We assessed the chimpanzee's ability to detect a small light probe (0.5 visual degree, Michelson contrast>0.9) presented at several locations in the visual field while monitoring gaze direction using an infra-red remote eye-tracker recently introduced to studies of great apes. The results showed the chimpanzee was unable to detect the probe in the lower left quadrant of the visual field, suggesting severe loss of contrast sensitivity in a part of hemivisual field that is retinotopically corresponded to the hemisphere of the cyst. A chimpanzee with a naturally occurring deficit in the right striate cortex and the availability of remote eye-tracking technology presented a unique opportunity to compare the role of the occipital lobe in visually guided behavior among various primate species.
Striate cortex, Chimpanzee, Visual field loss, Contrast sensitivity, Primate, Blindsight