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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Oct;94(4):2748-62. Epub 2005 Jul 6.

Functional organization of visual cortex in the prosimian bush baby revealed by optical imaging of intrinsic signals.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt Medical School, Nashville, TN 37232-8240, USA.


Cells in primary visual cortex (V1) of primates and carnivores respond most strongly to a visual stimulus presented to one eye, in a particular visual field location, and at a particular orientation. Each of these stimulus attributes is mapped across the cortical surface, and, in macaque monkeys and cats, strong geometrical relationships exist between these feature maps. In macaque V1 and V2, correlations between feature maps and cytochrome oxidase (CO)-rich modules have also been observed. To see if such relationships reflect a conserved principle of V1 functional architecture among primate species, we examined these maps in the prosimian bush baby, a species that has been proposed to represent the ancestral primate organization. We found that the layout of individual feature maps in bush baby V1 is similar to that of other primates, but we found an entirely different organization of orientation preference in bush baby V2 compared with that reported in simian primates. Another striking distinction between bush baby and simian species is that we observed no strong relationships among maps of orientation, ocular dominance, and CO blobs in V1. Thus our findings suggest that precise relationships between feature maps are not a common element of the functional organization in all primates and that such relationships are not necessary for achieving basic coverage of stimulus feature combinations. In addition, our results suggest that specific relationships between feature maps in V1, and the subdivision of V2 into functional compartments, may have arisen comparatively late in the evolution of primates.

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