Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 33–46 | Cite as

Topographic relations between ocular dominance and orientation columns in the cat striate cortex

  • S. Löwel
  • H. -J. Bischof
  • B. Leutenecker
  • W. Singer


In the visual cortex of four adult cats ocular dominance and orientation columns were visualized with (3H)proline and (14C)deoxyglucose autoradiography. The two columnar systems were reconstructed from serial horizontal sections or from flat-mount preparations and graphically superimposed. They share a number of characteristic features: In both systems the columns have a tendency to form regularly spaced parallel bands whose main trajectory is perpendicular to the border between areas 17 and 18. These bands frequently bifurcate or terminate in blind endings. The resulting irregularities are much more pronounced in the ocular dominance than in the orientation system. The periodicity of the columnar patterns was assessed along trajectories perpendicular to the main orientation of the bands and differed in the two columnar systems. The spacing of the ocular dominance stripes was significantly narrower than the spacing of orientation bands. The mean periodicity of a particular columnar system was virtually identical in the two hemispheres of the same animal but it differed substantially in different animals. However, the spacing of orientation columns covaried with that of the ocular dominance columns, the ratios of the mean spacings of the two columnar systems being similar in the four cats. The superposition of the two columnar systems revealed no obvious topographic relation between any of the organizational details such as the location of bifurcations, blind endings and intersections. We suggest the following conclusions: 1. The developmental processes generating the two columnar systems seem to obey the same algorithms but they act independently of each other. 2. The space constants of the two systems are rigorously specified and appear to depend on a common variable. 3. The main orientation of the bands in both columnar systems is related to a) the representation of the vertical meridian, b) the anisotropy of the cortical magnification factor, and c) the tangential spread of intracortical connections.

Key words

Columns Visual cortex Orientation Ocular dominance Maps Cat Development 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Löwel
    • 1
  • H. -J. Bischof
    • 2
  • B. Leutenecker
    • 1
  • W. Singer
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für HirnforschungFrankfurt 71Federal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl für VerhaltensphysiologieUniversität BielefeldBielefeld 1Federal Republic of Germany

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