Lateral Inhibition in the Human Visual System in Patients with Glaucoma and Healthy Subjects: A Case-Control Study

Francisco G Junoy Montolio, Wilma Meems, Marieke S A Janssens, Lucas Stam, Nomdo M Jansonius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
204 Downloads (Pure)


In glaucoma, the density of retinal ganglion cells is reduced. It is largely unknown how this influences retinal information processing. An increase in spatial summation and a decrease in contrast gain control and contrast adaptation have been reported. A decrease in lateral inhibition might also arise. This could result in a larger than expected response to some stimuli, which could mask ganglion cell loss on functional testing (structure-function discrepancy). The aim of this study was to compare lateral inhibition between glaucoma patients and healthy subjects; we used a case-control design. Cases (n = 18) were selected to have advanced visual field loss in combination with a normal visual acuity. Controls (n = 50) were not allowed to have symptoms or signs of any eye disease. Lateral inhibition was measured psychophysically on a computer screen, with (1) a modified illusory movement experiment and (2) a contrast sensitivity (CS) test. Illusory movement was quantified by nulling it with a real movement; measure of lateral inhibition was the amount of illusory movement. CS was measured at 1 and 4 cycles per degree (cpd); measure of lateral inhibition was the difference between log CS at 4 and 1 cpd. Both measures were compared between cases and controls; analyses were adjusted for age and gender. There was no difference between cases and controls for these two measures of lateral inhibition (p = 0.58 for illusory movement; p = 0.20 for CS). The movement threshold was higher in cases than in controls (p = 0.008) and log CS was lower, at both 1 (-0.20; p = 0.008) and 4 (-0.28; p = 0.001) cpd. Our results indicate that spatially antagonisticmechanisms are not specifically affected in glaucoma, at least not in the intact center of a severely damaged visual field. This suggests that the structure-function discrepancy in glaucoma is not related to a decrease in lateral inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0151006
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8-Mar-2016



Cite this