Orientation tuning in the visual cortex of 3-month-old human infants

Vision Res. 2011 Mar 2;51(5):470-8. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Jan 12.


Sensitivity to orientation is critical for making a whole and complete picture of the world. We measured the orientation tuning of mechanisms in the visual cortex of typically developing 3-month-olds and adults using a nonlinear analysis of the two-input steady-state Visually Evoked Potential (VEP). Two gratings, one a fixed test and the other a variable orientation masker were tagged with distinct temporal frequencies and the corresponding evoked responses were measured at the harmonics of the test and masker frequencies and at a frequency equal to the sum of the two stimulus frequencies. The magnitude of the sum frequency component depended strongly on the relative orientation of the test and masker in both infants and adults. The VEP tuning bandwidths of the 3-month-olds measured at the sum frequency were similar to those of adults, suggesting that behavioral immaturities in functions such as orientation discrimination and contour integration may result from other immaturities in long-range lateral projections or feedback mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*