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J Neurosci. 1996 Oct 15;16(20):6443-53.

Development of orientation preference maps in ferret primary visual cortex.

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Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Munich-Martinsried, Germany.


The development of orientation preference maps was studied in ferret primary visual cortex using chronic optical imaging of intrinsic signals. The emergence and maturation of the maps were examined over time in single animals. The earliest age at which cortical domains selectively responsive to particular stimulus orientations were observed varied considerably between individuals, from postnatal day 31 to 36. In all cases, the earliest maps seen were low-contrast, with regions of orientation-specific activity that were difficult to distinguish from noise. These early maps matured over a period of several days into the high-contrast, patchy maps typical of adult animals. The structure of the orientation maps was remarkably constant over time. The indistinct features in the earliest maps were always patches of the same sizes and shapes and at the same locations as in the maps obtained in subsequent recording sessions. Details of the more mature maps, including the relative intensities of individual iso-orientation domains, were also constant from one recording session to another over periods of several weeks. The patterning of iso-orientation domains in ferret primary visual cortex thus is established early in development and remains stable over time, unaffected by either normal visual experience or the anatomical rearrangements of geniculocortical afferents into eye-specific domains.

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