The visual cortex in Alzheimer disease: laminar distribution of the pathological changes in visual areas V1 and V2

Richard Armstrong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an important neurodegenerative disorder causing visual problems in the elderly population. The pathology of AD includes the deposition in the brain of abnormal aggregates of β-amyloid (Aβ) in the form of senile plaques (SP) and abnormally phosphorylated tau in the form of neurofibrillary tangles (NFT). A variety of visual problems have been reported in patients with AD including loss of visual acuity (VA), colour vision and visual fields; changes in pupillary responses to mydriatics, defects in fixation and in smooth and saccadic eye movements; changes in contrast sensitivity and in visual evoked potentials (VEP); and disturbances in complex visual tasks such as reading, visuospatial function, and in the naming and identification of objects. In addition, pathological changes have been observed to affect the eye, visual pathway, and visual cortex in AD. To better understand degeneration of the visual cortex in AD, the laminar distribution of the SP and NFT was studied in visual areas V1 and V2 in 18 cases of AD which varied in disease onset and duration. In area V1, the mean density of SP and NFT reached a maximum in lamina III and in laminae II and III respectively. In V2, mean SP density was maximal in laminae III and IV and NFT density in laminae II and III. The densities of SP in laminae I of V1 and NFT in lamina IV of V2 were negatively correlated with patient age. No significant correlations were observed in any cortical lamina between the density of NFT and disease onset or duration. However, in area V2, the densities of SP in lamina II and lamina V were negatively correlated with disease duration and disease onset respectively. In addition, there were several positive correlations between the densities of SP and NFT in V1 with those in area V2. The data suggest: (1) NFT pathology is greater in area V2 than V1, (2) laminae II/III of V1 and V2 are most affected by the pathology, (3) the formation of SP and NFT in V1 and V2 are interconnected, and (4) the pathology may spread between visual areas via the feed-forward short cortico-cortical connections.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVisual cortex
Subtitle of host publicationanatomy, functions and injuries
EditorsJessica Harris, Jason Scott
Place of PublicationHauppage, NY (US)
PublisherNova science
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-62100-968-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-62100-948-1, 1-62100-948-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012

Publication series

NameNeuroscience research progress
PublisherNova science


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • visual cortex
  • pathology
  • laminar distribution
  • senile plaques
  • neurofibrillary tangles


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