Balance between function and wiring cost in the primary visual cortex

R. Everson, E. Kaplan, A. K. Prashanth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We investigate, using computational simulations and optical imaging, the extent to which the functional architecture of the primary visual cortex may be understood as a balance between the functions that the neurons must perform (correlating the input from neurons whose receptive fields are close) and the cost of making intra-cortical connections. Methods: The cortex was simulated as an array of "neurons" each with a receptive field location, an ocular preference and an orientation preference. The inefficiency of a particular cortical configuration increases if neurons with nearby receptive fields are distant on the cortex, if neurons receiving input from the same eye are distant, or if neurons with similar orientation preferences are distant. Simulated annealing was used to find the configuration that minimizes the inefficiency. Optical imaging of the intrinsic, signal from the exposed cortex of anesthetized, paralyzed cats and monkeys was used to reveal the ocular dominance, orientation tuning and retinotopic maps for the visual cortex. Results: Simulations reproduce the retinotopic map on the cortex, and concur with real cortex in that the boundaries of ocular dominance columns are oriented perpendicular to the direction of maximum stretch in the retinotopic map; in addition orientation pinwheels tend to lie in the center of ocular dominance columns. Conclusions: The architecture of the primary visual cortex is consistent with a model in which the wiring cost is minimized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S16
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997


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