Anatomy and Physiology of Macaque Visual Cortical Areas V1, V2, and V5/MT: Bases for Biologically Realistic Models

Cereb Cortex. 2020 May 18;30(6):3483-3517. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhz322.


The cerebral cortex of primates encompasses multiple anatomically and physiologically distinct areas processing visual information. Areas V1, V2, and V5/MT are conserved across mammals and are central for visual behavior. To facilitate the generation of biologically accurate computational models of primate early visual processing, here we provide an overview of over 350 published studies of these three areas in the genus Macaca, whose visual system provides the closest model for human vision. The literature reports 14 anatomical connection types from the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus to V1 having distinct layers of origin or termination, and 194 connection types between V1, V2, and V5, forming multiple parallel and interacting visual processing streams. Moreover, within V1, there are reports of 286 and 120 types of intrinsic excitatory and inhibitory connections, respectively. Physiologically, tuning of neuronal responses to 11 types of visual stimulus parameters has been consistently reported. Overall, the optimal spatial frequency (SF) of constituent neurons decreases with cortical hierarchy. Moreover, V5 neurons are distinct from neurons in other areas for their higher direction selectivity, higher contrast sensitivity, higher temporal frequency tuning, and wider SF bandwidth. We also discuss currently unavailable data that could be useful for biologically accurate models.

Keywords: biomimetic; computational neuroscience; microcircuit; neural network; neuroinformatics.

Publication types

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