Geometry and the visual brain

J Physiol Paris. 2003 Mar-May;97(2-3):99-103. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2003.09.012.


Receptive fields structure of neurons in primary visual cortex suggests that they process visual stimuli in the frequency domain, in a way similar to the frequency analysis performed in the auditory system. As a consequence, both psychophysicists and electrophysiologists have long probed the visual system using extended sine wave gratings that are well localized in the frequency domain but poorly defined in visual space. Meanwhile, how the brain processes the geometrical properties and the spatial and temporal relationships between stimulus parts has received less attention. Recent progress in visual neuroscience that uncovered long-range horizontal connections between cortical neurons and revealed the complex architecture of primary visual cortex and feedback connectivity led to new insights concerned with the processing of geometrical properties of visual stimuli in V1. This paper presents a short historical perspective of the emergence of new issues related to the cortical architecture and its functional consequences on the processing of geometrical properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mathematics
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology