Journal of neurophysiology

Precise visuotopic organization of the blind spot representation in primate V1.

PMID 25761953


The optic disk is a region of the retina consisting mainly of ganglion cell axons and blood vessels, which generates a visual scotoma known as the blind spot (BS). Information present in the surroundings of the BS can be used to complete the missing information. However, the neuronal mechanisms underlying these perceptual phenomena are poorly understood. We investigate the topography of the BS representation (BSR) in cortical area V1 of the capuchin monkey, using single and multiple electrodes. Receptive fields (RFs) of neurons inside the BSR were investigated using two distinct automatic bias-free mapping methods. The first method (local mapping) consisted of randomly flashing small white squares. For the second mapping method (global mapping), we used a single long bar that moved in one of eight directions. The latter stimulus was capable of eliciting neuronal activity inside the BSR, possibly attributable to long-range surround activity taking place outside the borders of the BSR. Importantly, we found that the neuronal activity inside the BSR is organized topographically in a manner similar to that found in other portions of V1. On average, the RFs inside the BS were larger than those outside. However, no differences in orientation or direction tuning were found between the two regions. We propose that area V1 exhibits a continuous functional topographic map, which is not interrupted in the BSR, as expected by the distribution of photoreceptors in the retina. Thus V1 topography is better described as "visuotopic" rather than as a discontinuous "retinotopic" map.

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