The retinotopic organization of striate cortex is well predicted by surface topology

Curr Biol. 2012 Nov 6;22(21):2081-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.09.014. Epub 2012 Oct 4.


In 1918, Gordon Holmes combined observations of visual-field scotomas across brain-lesioned soldiers to produce a schematic map of the projection of the visual field upon the striate cortex. One limit to the precision of his result, and the mapping of anatomy to retinotopy generally, is the substantial individual variation in the size, volumetric position, and cortical magnification of area V1. When viewed within the context of the curvature of the cortical surface, however, the boundaries of striate cortex fall at a consistent location across individuals. We asked whether the surface topology of the human brain can be used to accurately predict the internal, retinotopic function of striate cortex as well. We used fMRI to measure polar angle and eccentricity in 25 participants and combined their maps within a left-right, transform-symmetric representation of the cortical surface. These data were then fit using a deterministic, algebraic model of visual-field representation. We found that an anatomical image alone can be used to predict the retinotopic organization of striate cortex for an individual with accuracy equivalent to 10-25 min of functional mapping. This indicates tight developmental linkage of structure and function within a primary, sensory cortical area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Scotoma
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Field Tests
  • Visual Fields
  • Young Adult