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Neuron. 2012 Jul 26;75(2):209-17. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.06.031.

From functional architecture to functional connectomics.

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Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, 220 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02138, USA.


"Receptive Fields, Binocular Interaction and Functional Architecture in the Cat's Visual Cortex" by Hubel and Wiesel (1962) reported several important discoveries: orientation columns, the distinct structures of simple and complex receptive fields, and binocular integration. But perhaps the paper's greatest influence came from the concept of functional architecture (the complex relationship between in vivo physiology and the spatial arrangement of neurons) and several models of functionally specific connectivity. They thus identified two distinct concepts, topographic specificity and functional specificity, which together with cell-type specificity constitute the major determinants of nonrandom cortical connectivity. Orientation columns are iconic examples of topographic specificity, whereby axons within a column connect with cells of a single orientation preference. Hubel and Wiesel also saw the need for functional specificity at a finer scale in their model of thalamic inputs to simple cells, verified in the 1990s. The difficult but potentially more important question of functional specificity between cortical neurons is only now becoming tractable with new experimental techniques.

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