Spike (action potential) responses of most primary visual cortical cells in the macaque are sharply tuned for the orientation of a line or an edge, and neurons preferring similar orientations are clustered together in cortical columns. The preferred stimulus orientation of these columns span the full range of orientations, as observed in recordings of spikes and in classical optical imaging of intrinsic signals. However, when we imaged the putative thalamic input to striate cortical cells that can be seen in imaging of intrinsic signals when they are analyzed on a larger spatial scale, we found that the orientation domain map of the primary visual cortex did not show the same diversity of orientations. This map was dominated by just the one orientation that is most commonly preferred by neurons in the retina and the lateral geniculate nucleus. This supports cortical feature selectivity and columnar architecture being built upon feed-forward signals transmitted from the thalamus in a very limited number of broadly tuned input channels.
Keywords: optical imaging of intrinsic signals; orientation selectivity; radial bias; thalamocortical inputs; visual cortex.
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