Cortical visual impairment in childhood: ‘blindsight’ and the sprague effect revisited

Gerry Leisman, Calixto Machado, Robert Melillo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The paper discusses and provides support for diverse processes of brain plasticity in visual function after damage in infancy and childhood in comparison with injury that occurs in the adult brain. We provide support and description of neuroplastic mechanisms in childhood that do not seemingly exist in the same way in the adult brain. Examples include the ability to foster the development of thalamocortical connectivities that can circumvent the lesion and reach their cortical destination in the occipital cortex as the developing brain is more efficient in building new connections. Supporting this claim is the fact that in those with central visual field defects we can note that the extrastriatal visual connectivities are greater when a lesion occurs earlier in life as opposed to in the neurologically mature adult. The result is a significantly more optimized system of visual and spatial exploration within the ‘blind’ field of view. The discussion is provided within the context of “blindsight” and the “Sprague Effect”.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1279
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 27 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Blindsight
  • Cortical blindness
  • Cortical visual impairment
  • Infant vision
  • Sprague Effect
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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