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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015, Article ID 307929, 13 pages
Review Article

Are Visual Peripheries Forever Young?

Laboratory of Neuroplasticity, Department of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Pasteur 3, 02-093 Warsaw, Poland

Received 8 January 2015; Revised 3 March 2015; Accepted 13 March 2015

Academic Editor: Sarah L. Pallas

Copyright © 2015 Kalina Burnat. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The paper presents a concept of lifelong plasticity of peripheral vision. Central vision processing is accepted as critical and irreplaceable for normal perception in humans. While peripheral processing chiefly carries information about motion stimuli features and redirects foveal attention to new objects, it can also take over functions typical for central vision. Here I review the data showing the plasticity of peripheral vision found in functional, developmental, and comparative studies. Even though it is well established that afferent projections from central and peripheral retinal regions are not established simultaneously during early postnatal life, central vision is commonly used as a general model of development of the visual system. Based on clinical studies and visually deprived animal models, I describe how central and peripheral visual field representations separately rely on early visual experience. Peripheral visual processing (motion) is more affected by binocular visual deprivation than central visual processing (spatial resolution). In addition, our own experimental findings show the possible recruitment of coarse peripheral vision for fine spatial analysis. Accordingly, I hypothesize that the balance between central and peripheral visual processing, established in the course of development, is susceptible to plastic adaptations during the entire life span, with peripheral vision capable of taking over central processing.