Visual perception in prediagnostic and early stage Huntington's disease

Brian F. O'Donnell, Tanya M. Blekhert, Marjorie Weaver, Kerry M. White, Jeanine Marshall, Xabier Beristain, Julie C. Stout, Jacqueline Gray, Joanne M. Wojcieszek, Tatiana M. Foroud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Disturbances of visual perception frequently accompany neurodegenerative disorders but have been little studied in Huntington's disease (HD) gene carriers. We used psychophysical tests to assess visual perception among individuals in the prediagnostic and early stages of HD. The sample comprised four groups, which included 201 nongene carriers (NG), 32 prediagnostic gene carriers with minimal neurological abnormalities (PD1); 20 prediagnostic gene carriers with moderate neurological abnormalities (PD2), and 36 gene carriers with diagnosed HD. Contrast sensitivity for stationary and moving sinusoidal gratings, and tests of form and motion discrimination, were used to probe different visual pathways. Patients with HD showed impaired contrast sensitivity for moving gratings. For one of the three contrast sensitivity tests, the prediagnostic gene carriers with greater neurological abnormality (PD2) also had impaired performance as compared with NG. These findings suggest that early stage HD disrupts visual functions associated with the magnocellular pathway. However, these changes are only observed in individuals diagnosed with HD or who are in the more symptomatic stages of prediagnostic HD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-453
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Huntington's disease
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Neuropsychology
  • Visual pathways
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychology(all)

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