Functional organization in the visual cortex of the golden hamster

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-481
Journal / PublicationJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 1976
Externally publishedYes


The visual cortex of the golden hamster was studied by means of multi‐unit and single unit recording, which revealed three separate retinotopic maps of the visual field in the posterior cortex. V1, corresponding to cytoarchitectonic area 17, has the contralateral temporal field represented medially, the central visual field (extending about 10 deg ipsilateral) represented laterally and the lower field anteriorly. The borders of the map, especially for the upper field, seem to be more restricted than the whole visual field available to the contralateral hemiretina: V1 probably does not represent the extreme periphery of the field. A large fraction of V1 has binocular input, for up to about 50 deg lateral to the vertical midline. There is a retinotopic reversal near the representation of the vertical midline where V1 meets V2 (corresponding to the more lateral “area 18a”). There is another retinotopic reversal at the extremity of the contralateral field representation, where V1 meets Vm (the medial visual area, corresponding to “area 18”) V2 and Vm each contain a reduced mirror image version of the map in V1. Almost all isolated single units in V1 have receptive fields that can be classified as radially symmetrical (60%) or asymmetrical (35%) Symmetrical fields have ON (13%) OFF (4%) ON‐OFF (30%) or “SILENT” (12%) central areas when plotted with flashing spots. There are minor but not striking differences between these groups in their field sizes, velocity preferences and so on. They almost invariably prefer moving to stationary stimuli but are not selective for orientation or direction of movement. Asymmetrical fields are of four types, three of which (type 1, 11% type 2, 17% and type 3, 2%) are orientation selective and resemble simple, complex and hypercomplex cells in the cat cortex. Some of these have direction as well as orientation preference. Axial movement detectors (5%) have a selectivity for one axis of motion, and thus prefer one orientation of edge, but respond equally well to movement of a spot. Vertical and horizontal orientation preferences, especially the latter, are much the most common. There is some evidence of clustering of cells according to receptive field type and, possibly, preferred orientation. Asymmetrical cells are, relatively, somewhat rarer in the deeper cortical layers. Within the binocular segment, fully 89%of cells are binocularly driven and the receptive fields are similar in the two eyes. Receptive fields tend to increase in size away from the area centralis representation and, in a complementary fashion, the magnification factor decreases from up to 0.1 mm/deg at the area centralis representation to about 0.02 mm/deg for the peripheral field. Copyright © 1976 The Wistar Institute Press