Patterns of connections in rat visual cortex

J Neurosci. 1989 Nov;9(11):3741-52. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.09-11-03741.1989.


The definition of visual areas is one of the central problems in visual cortex research. Rodent extrastriate cortex offers a striking example of the complexity of this issue, in that different parcelation schemes identify within it from 2 to as many as 13 separate visual areas. In the experiments reported here, patterns of connections within rat visual cortex were studied in an effort to better define its organizational layout. The experimental paradigm used consisted of the following steps: first, the pattern of callosal connections was revealed in vivo with the fluorescent tracer bisbenzimide. Then, using the callosal pattern as a landmark, single injections of WGA-HRP were placed at various sites in striate and extrastriate cortex. Subsequently, the relation between the tangential distribution of ipsilateral corticocortical connections, the callosal connections, and the borders of striate cortex were examined in the flattened cortex preparation. The experiments revealed widespread, patchy connections within rat visual cortex. These connections appeared to reflect 3 organizational trends. First, neighboring sites were more extensively connected than distant ones. Second, extrastriate sites receiving common striate cortex inputs tended to be interconnected. Finally, projections from opposite poles in striate cortex tended to form interdigitating patterns of connections in regions of overlap. Altogether these trends suggest that the extrastriate band adjoining striate cortex has a single, global map organization. However, within the global map, a clear modular organization was evident, which appeared to correspond to the multiple visuotopic representations reported for this region. Based on its location, and some organizational similarities. it is suggested that the global map may constitute the rat homolog of area V2 in cat and monkey.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins


  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins
  • Horseradish Peroxidase