Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 65, Issue 6, pp 415–424

Coverage and the design of striate cortex

  • N. V. Swindale


Hubel and Wiesel (1977) suggested that ocular dominance and orientation columns in the macaque monkey striate cortex might be bands of uniform width that intersected orthogonally. They pointed out that if this were the case, there would be an equal allocation of cells of different orientation preference to each eye and to each point in visual space. However, orientation and ocular dominance columns have a more complex structural organization than is implied by this model: for example, iso-orientation domains do not intersect ocular dominance stripes at right angles and the two columnar systems have different periodicities. This raises the question as to how well the striate cortex manages to allocate equal numbers of neurons of different orientation preference to each eye and to each region of visual space, a factor referred to here as coverage. This paper defines a measure of uniformity of coverage, c′, and investigates its dependence on several different parameters of columnar organisation. Calculations were done first using a simplified one-dimensional model of orientation and ocular dominance columns and were then repeated using more realistic two-dimensional models, generated with the algorithms described in the preceding paper (Swindale 1991). Factors investigated include the relative periodicities of the two columnar systems, the size of the cortical point image, the width of orientation tuning curves, whether columns are spatially anisotropic or not, and the role of the structural relationships between columns described by Blasdel and Salama (1986). The results demonstrate that coverage is most uniform when orientation hypercolumns are about half the size of ocular dominance hypercolumns. Coverage is most uneven when the hypercolumns are the same size, unless they are related in the way described by Blasdel and Salama, in which case coverage gets only slightly worse as the size ratio (ori/od) increases above 0.5. The minimum diameter of cortical point image that ensures reasonably uniform coverage is about twice the size of an ocular dominance hypercolumn i.e. about 1.5–2.0 mm.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. V. Swindale
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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