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J Neurosci. 2001 Jun 15;21(12):4416-26.

Oriented axon projections in primary visual cortex of the monkey.

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Program in Neuroscience and Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


One important aspect of the functional architecture of primary visual cortex is the circuitry that accounts for the receptive field properties of neurons. The anatomy that underlies retinotopy and ocular dominance is well known, but no anatomical structure related to orientation selectivity has been found in primates. We examined whether the arrangement of local axon systems projecting within the cortical layers might be correlated with orientation preference in New World monkeys. We found that axons in layer 3 spread out from the site of a tracer injection in an anisotropic manner and that this elongated distribution is aligned with the preferred orientation recorded at each site. Moreover, within a few degrees of the foveal representation, the majority of the axon terminals fall within or just outside of the limits of the cortical mapping of the classical receptive field. Thus local axons produce a field of monosynaptic excitation that aligns with orientation axes and reaches neurons that have receptive fields which are adjacent in visual space.

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