Neural population tuning links visual cortical anatomy to human visual perception

Neuron. 2015 Feb 4;85(3):641-56. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.12.041. Epub 2015 Jan 22.


The anatomy of cerebral cortex is characterized by two genetically independent variables, cortical thickness and cortical surface area, that jointly determine cortical volume. It remains unclear how cortical anatomy might influence neural response properties and whether such influences would have behavioral consequences. Here, we report that thickness and surface area of human early visual cortices exert opposite influences on neural population tuning with behavioral consequences for perceptual acuity. We found that visual cortical thickness correlated negatively with the sharpness of neural population tuning and the accuracy of perceptual discrimination at different visual field positions. In contrast, visual cortical surface area correlated positively with neural population tuning sharpness and perceptual discrimination accuracy. Our findings reveal a central role for neural population tuning in linking visual cortical anatomy to visual perception and suggest that a perceptually advantageous visual cortex is a thinned one with an enlarged surface area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult