Changing human visual field organization from early visual to extra-occipital cortex

PLoS One. 2007 May 16;2(5):e452. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000452.


Background: The early visual areas have a clear topographic organization, such that adjacent parts of the cortical surface represent distinct yet adjacent parts of the contralateral visual field. We examined whether cortical regions outside occipital cortex show a similar organization.

Methodology/principal findings: The BOLD responses to discrete visual field locations that varied in both polar angle and eccentricity were measured using two different tasks. As described previously, numerous occipital regions are both selective for the contralateral visual field and show topographic organization within that field. Extra-occipital regions are also selective for the contralateral visual field, but possess little (or no) topographic organization. A regional analysis demonstrates that this weak topography is not due to increased receptive field size in extra-occipital areas.

Conclusions/significance: A number of extra-occipital areas are identified that are sensitive to visual field location. Neurons in these areas corresponding to different locations in the contralateral visual field do not demonstrate any regular or robust topographic organization, but appear instead to be intermixed on the cortical surface. This suggests a shift from processing that is predominately local in visual space, in occipital areas, to global, in extra-occipital areas. Global processing fits with a role for these extra-occipital areas in selecting a spatial locus for attention and/or eye-movements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Saccades
  • Visual Fields*