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J Comp Neurol. 1987 Jan 15;255(3):401-15.

Topographic organization of the orientation column system in large flat-mounts of the cat visual cortex: a 2-deoxyglucose study.


We developed a flat-mount technique in order to visualize, without additional reconstruction, the system of orientation columns in the cat visual cortex by using 2-deoxyglucose-autoradiography. Experimental animals were injected with 2-deoxyglucose and then stimulated for 45-60 minutes either with vertical or horizontal or oblique gratings alone or with vertical and horizontal gratings presented in alternation. In both areas 17 and 18 stimulation with either vertical or horizontal or oblique stripes produced similar and highly ordered patterns of parallel bands of increased 2-deoxyglucose uptake that were perpendicular to the boundaries of the areas. In area 17 they occasionally extended without interruption from the 17/18 border on the top of the lateral gyrus to the monocular segment in the splenial sulcus. Superposition of serial sections revealed that these bands were present in all cortical layers and in precise register along lines orthogonal to the lamination. The center-to-center spacing of the bands was 1.0-1.1 mm in area 17 and 1.2-1.4 mm in area 18. Stimulation with alternating vertical and horizontal contours led to a pattern the general organization of which resembled that induced by a single orientation but the spacing of which was reduced by a factor of 0.5. This strongly supports the concept that orientation is mapped in a system of parallel bands and argues against a recently formulated hypothesis that iso-orientation bands extend like spokes from centers that lack orientation selectivity (Braitenberg and Braitenberg, Biol. Cybern. 33:179-186, '79). Another characteristic feature, revealed by the flat-mount technique, was a periodic variation of 2-deoxyglucose uptake along the bands that gave them a beaded appearance. The mean center-to-center distance between adjacent beads on the same band was in the range of 0.9-1.2 mm and remained unchanged when horizontal and vertical gratings were presented in alternation. We propose that these beads reflect another columnar system whose features have yet to be determined.

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