Influence of experience on orientation maps in cat visual cortex

Nat Neurosci. 1999 Aug;2(8):727-32. doi: 10.1038/11192.


Experience is known to affect the development of ocular dominance maps in visual cortex, but it has remained controversial whether orientation preference maps are similarly affected by limiting visual experience to a single orientation early in life. Here we used optical imaging based on intrinsic signals to show that the visual cortex of kittens reared in a striped environment responded to all orientations, but devoted up to twice as much surface area to the experienced orientation as the orthogonal one. This effect is due to an instructive role of visual experience whereby some neurons shift their orientation preferences toward the experienced orientation. Thus, although cortical orientation maps are remarkably rigid in the sense that orientations that have never been seen by the animal occupy a large portion of the cortical territory, visual experience can nevertheless alter neuronal responses to oriented contours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cats
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*