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J Neurosci. 1996 Nov 15;16(22):7228-39.

Intrinsic variability of ocular dominance column periodicity in normal macaque monkeys.

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Beckman Vision Center, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0730, USA.


Little is known about intrinsic variation from animal to animal in the periodicity of columnar systems within various regions of the mammalian cerebral cortex. To address this issue, complete mosaics of the ocular dominance columns were reconstructed from flat-mounts of the left and right striate cortex (V1) in six normal adult macaques (Macaca fascicularis). To identify the columns, we enucleated the right eye and subsequently processed striate cortex for cytochrome oxidase (CO) activity. Average column areas for the intact eye and the missing eye were nearly equal, confirming that monocular enucleation in adult macaques produces negligible column shrinkage. The contralateral eye's columns occupied more territory than the ipsilateral eye's columns, even in the central visual field representation (0 degree to 8 degrees), where they predominated by 52 to 48%. The column mosaics showed remarkable variation in periodicity. The number of column pairs along the V1/V2 border ranged from 101 sets in one monkey to 154 sets in another. Average column width along the V1/V2 border ranged between 670 and 395 microns, a nearly twofold difference. The widest columns were found in the foveal representation. This high degree of innate variability should be taken into account when considering the effects of various sensory manipulations (e.g., strabismus, anisometropia), which have been reported to alter the periodicity of ocular dominance columns. We found pronounced intrinsic variation in the width and number of ocular dominance columns in a sample of six M. fascicularis, indicating that the number of hypercolumns within a given cortical area can range widely among normal members of the same species.

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