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Columnar organization of spatial phase in visual cortex

Nature Neuroscience volume 18, pages 97103 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Images are processed in the primary visual cortex by neurons that encode different stimulus orientations and spatial phases. In primates and carnivores, neighboring cortical neurons share similar orientation preferences, but spatial phases were thought to be randomly distributed. We discovered a columnar organization for spatial phase in cats that shares similarities with the columnar organization for orientation. For both orientation and phase, the mean difference across vertically aligned neurons was less than one-fourth of a cycle. Cortical neurons showed threefold more diversity in phase than orientation preference; however, the average phase of local neuronal populations was similar through the depth of layer 4. We conclude that columnar organization for visual space is not only defined by the spatial location of the stimulus, but also by absolute phase. Taken together with previous findings, our results suggest that this phase-visuotopy is responsible for the emergence of orientation maps.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to G. DeAngelis, D. Ringach, K. Miller, B. Backus and S. Bloomfield for their valuable suggestions on improving the manuscript. This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health (EY005253, J.M.A.) and a DFG Research Fellowship (KR 4062/1-1, J.K.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Reza Lashgari

    Present address: School of Electrical Engineering, Iran University of Science and Technology, Narmak, Tehran, Iran.

    • Yushi Wang
    •  & Jianzhong Jin

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Graduate Center for Vision Research, State University of New York, College of Optometry, New York, New York, USA.

    • Yushi Wang
    • , Jianzhong Jin
    • , Jens Kremkow
    • , Reza Lashgari
    • , Stanley J Komban
    •  & Jose M Alonso

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Contributions

Y.W., J.J., J.K., R.L., S.J.K. and J.M.A. conducted the experiments and data analysis. Y.W., J.J. and J.M.A. wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jose M Alonso.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3878

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