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Can J Ophthalmol. 2006 Oct;41(5):584-93.

Ocular integration in the human visual cortex.

Author information

1
Beckman Vision Center, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0730, USA. hortonj@vision.ucsf.edu

Abstract

Human striate cortex contains an orderly map of the contralateral visual field, which is distorted to make a disproportionate amount of tissue available for the representation of the macula. Engrafted on the retinotopic map is a system of alternating inputs known as ocular dominance columns. These columns consist of interleaved bands of geniculocortical afferents in layer 4C serving either the right eye or the left eye. They can be revealed in humans with a history of prior visual loss in one eye by processing striate cortex for cytochrome oxidase at autopsy. Because their geniculate input is segregated, cells within ocular dominance columns in layer 4C respond to stimulation of one eye only. These monocular cells converge onto binocular cells in other layers, integrating signals from the two eyes. The columns in humans appear similar to those found in many primate species, including the macaque. In the squirrel monkey, however, the occurrence of ocular dominance columns is highly variable. Some squirrel monkeys lack columns, yet they seem to have no impairment of visual function. In animals with weakly expressed columns, one can detect a cortical pattern of metabolic activity corresponding to retinal blood vessels. It appears because visual deprivation from shadows cast by blood vessels induces remodeling of geniculocortical afferents, in a manner akin to the shrinkage of ocular dominance columns from congenital cataract. Although the function of ocular dominance columns is unknown, their metabolism is altered in strabismus, suggesting a role in visual suppression.

PMID:
17016529
DOI:
10.1016/S0008-4182(06)80027-X
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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