We used 18IF-2-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose and positron emission tomography to evaluate the effect of visual deprivation on brain glucose metabolism. In experiment 1, we compared local cerebral metabolic rates for glucose in seven normal volunteers studied with eyes closed to 11 age- and sex-matched normal volunteers studied with eyes open. Whole brain metabolism was similar in the two groups, and region/whole brain analysis of metabolic data showed that metabolism in the calcarine posterior cortex was decreased by 14% (P < .05) with eye closure. Glucose metabolism in other regions was not different between the two groups. In experiment 2, we compared glucose metabolism in six patients with severe bilateral optic neuropathies to 12 age- and sex-matched normal controls. Whole brain glucose metabolism was unchanged in the optic neuropathy group compared to controls. However, statistically significant reductions in glucose metabolism in the optic neuropathy group were found in anterior calcarine cortex (17%), posterior calcarine cortex (27%), peristriate cortex (27%), and lateral occipital cortex (15%). The metabolic effects of damage to the pregeniculate visual system went well beyond those of simple eye closure.
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