Foci of orientation plasticity in visual cortex

Nature. 2001 May 3;411(6833):80-6. doi: 10.1038/35075070.


Cortical areas are generally assumed to be uniform in their capacity for adaptive changes or plasticity. Here we demonstrate, however, that neurons in the cat striate cortex (V1) show pronounced adaptation-induced short-term plasticity of orientation tuning primarily at specific foci. V1 neurons are clustered according to their orientation preference in iso-orientation domains that converge at singularities or pinwheel centres. Although neurons in pinwheel centres have similar orientation tuning and responses to those in iso-orientation domains, we find that they differ markedly in their capacity for adaptive changes. Adaptation with an oriented drifting grating stimulus alters responses of neurons located at and near pinwheel centres to a broad range of orientations, causing repulsive shifts in orientation preference and changes in response magnitude. In contrast, neurons located in iso-orientation domains show minimal changes in their tuning properties after adaptation. The anisotropy of adaptation-induced orientation plasticity is probably mediated by inhomogeneities in local intracortical interactions that are overlaid on the map of orientation preference in V1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Electrophysiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*