Visual deprivation can lead to abnormal and plastic changes in the brain’s visual system and other systems. Although the secondary changes of gray matter in patients have been well studied, the study of white matter is rare. In fact, subtle changes in white matter may be revealed by diffusion tensor imaging, and tract-based spatial statistics can be used to analyze DTI image data.
In the present study, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) were used to investigate abnormal structural changes in the white matter (WM) of patients with monocular blindness (MB).
We recruited 16 healthy controls (HC) (fourteen males and two females) and 16 patients (fifteen males and one female) with right-eye blindness (without differences in left-eye vision). All patients were of similar age. Data acquisition was performed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and DTI. Voxel-based whole brain comparisons of fractional anisotropy (FA) and radial diffusivity (RD) of WM fibers in patients and HC were performed using the TBSS method. The mean FA and RD values for altered brain regions in MB patients were analyzed via the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. Correlation analysis was performed to investigate the relationships between the average FA (RD) value of the whole brain and anxiety score, depression score, and visual function questionnaire score in MB patients.
In MB patients, the mean FA of the whole brain was decreased versus HC. Moreover, the FA values of the corpus callosum, the corona radiata, the posterior thalamic radiation, and the right retrolenticular part of internal capsule were significantly decreased. In addition, the average RD value of the whole brain in MB patients was higher than that observed in HC. The mean FA and RD values of brain regions were analyzed using the ROC curve, and the results showed that the area under the ROC curve was more accurate. Furthermore, the average FA and RD values of the whole brain were significantly correlated with anxiety score, depression score, and visual function-related quality of life score.
DTI and TBSS may be useful in examining abnormal spontaneous alterations in the WM of MB patients. The observed changes in FA and RD values may imply the larvaceous neurological mechanism involved in MB.

© 2020 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.