Projection of Orthogonal Tiling from the Retina to the Visual Cortex

Cell Rep. 2021 Jan 5;34(1):108581. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108581.


In higher mammals, the primary visual cortex (V1) is organized into diverse tuning maps of visual features. The topography of these maps intersects orthogonally, but it remains unclear how such a systematic relationship can develop. Here, we show that the orthogonal organization already exists in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) mosaics, providing a blueprint of the organization in V1. From analysis of the RGC mosaics data in monkeys and cats, we find that the ON-OFF RGC distance and ON-OFF angle of neighboring RGCs are organized into a topographic tiling across mosaics, analogous to the orthogonal intersection of cortical tuning maps. Our model simulation shows that the ON-OFF distance and angle in RGC mosaics correspondingly initiate ocular dominance/spatial frequency tuning and orientation tuning, resulting in the orthogonal intersection of cortical tuning maps. These findings suggest that the regularly structured ON-OFF patterns mirrored from the retina initiate the uniform representation of combinations of map features over the visual space.

Keywords: efficient tiling; feedforward projection; ocular dominance; orientation map; orthogonal organization; primary visual cortex; retinal ganglion cell; retinotopy; spatial frequency map; uniform coverage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't