Anatomy of macaque fovea and spatial densities of neurons in foveal representation

J Comp Neurol. 1988 Mar 22;269(4):479-505. doi: 10.1002/cne.902690403.


Fine visual sampling in the macaque depends on the high density of cone outer and inner segments in the fovea. Cone pedicles, at the opposite, presynaptic end of the cone, are absent from the center of the fovea. Both ends of the cones, inner segments and pedicles, are closely packed within their respective monolayers, but the spatial density of foveal pedicles is lower because foveal pedicles are wider than inner segments. Because there is one pedicle for every inner segment, and because pedicles are wider than inner segments, increase in eccentricity finds increasing lateral displacement of the cone's pedicle from its inner segment. Further increase of eccentricity finds inner segment density falling below pedicle density, and so this lateral displacement declines. By 2-3 mm from the center, inner segments catch up with pedicles. Additional lateral displacements, of bipolar cells from pedicles and ganglion from bipolar cells, are largest for central-most elements and fall steeply with eccentricity. By taking into account all of these lateral displacements, the eccentricity of the cone inner segment(s) associated with a ganglion cell was determined, as was the area of inner segments represented by a unit area in the ganglion cell layer. Then raw ganglion cell densities were transformed to densities comparable to densities of inner segments and of cells in dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. On average there appears to be close to 2 ganglion cells for each cone in the central fovea out to about 2.5 degrees. Thus, the density of foveal ganglion cells is sufficient to allow each red and each green cone to connect to 2 midget ganglion cells, and each blue cone to connect to 1 ganglion cell. Furthermore, there appears to be a single dorsal lateral geniculate cell for each ganglion cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Fovea Centralis / anatomy & histology*
  • Fovea Centralis / cytology
  • Macaca / anatomy & histology*
  • Macaca fascicularis / anatomy & histology*
  • Macula Lutea / anatomy & histology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*