Psychology Wiki
Brain: Optic chiasm
Visual pathway with optic chiasm (X shape outlined, red) (1543 image from Andreas Vesalius' Fabrica)
Latin chiasma opticum
Gray's subject #197 883
Part of
BrainInfo/UW -
MeSH A08.800.800.120.680.600

The optic chiasm (Greek χίασμα, "crossing", from the Greek χλαζειν 'to mark with an X', after the Greek letter chi) is the part of the brain where the optic nerves partially cross.


Specifically, in the optic chiasm, the nerves connected to the right eye that attend to the right temporal visual field (located in the right retina) cross to the left half of the brain, while the nerves from the left eye that attend to the left temporal visual field (located in the left retina) cross to the right half of the brain.

This allows for parts of both eyes that attend to the right visual field to be processed in the left visual system in the brain, and vice versa.

Optic chiasm in cats

In Siamese cats with certain genotypes of the albino gene, this wiring is disrupted, with less of the nerve-crossing than is normal, as a number of scholars have reported. [1] To compensate for lack of crossing in their brains, they cross their eyes (strabismus). [2]

This is also seen in albino tigers, as Guillery & Kaas report.[3]

Additional images

See also


  1. OMIA
  2. R. W. Guillery; J. H. Kaas. Genetic Abnormality of the Visual Pathways in a "White" Tiger. Science. 1973 Jun 22;180(92):1287-9. GS
  3. Guillery, R. Visual pathways in albinos. Scientific American 1974 May;230(5):44-54. PubMed

External links

Sensory system - Visual system - edit
Eye | Optic nerve | Optic chiasm | Optic tract | Lateral geniculate nucleus | Optic radiation | Visual cortex
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