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Topographic organization, number, and laminar distribution of callosal cells connecting visual cortical areas 17 and 18 of normally pigmented and Siamese cats

  • Nancy E. J. Berman (a1) and Simon Grant (a2)

Abstract

The callosal connections between visual cortical areas 17 and 18 in adult normally pigmented and “Boston” Siamese cats were studied using degeneration methods, and by transport of WGA-HRP combined with electrophysiological mapping. In normal cats, over 90% of callosal neurons were located in the supragranular layers. The supragranular callosal cell zone spanned the area 17/18 border and extended, on average, some 2–3 mm into both areas to occupy a territory which was roughly co-extensive with the distribution of callosal terminations in these areas. The region of the visual field adjoining the vertical meridian that was represented by neurons in the supragranular callosal cell zone was shown to increase systematically with decreasing visual elevation. Thus, close to the area centralis, receptive-field centers recorded from within this zone extended only up to 5 deg into the contralateral hemifield but at elevations of -10 deg and -40 deg they extended as far as 8 deg and 14 deg, respectively, into this hemifield. This suggests an element of visual non-correspondence in the callosal pathway between these cortical areas, which may be an essential substrate for “coarse” stereopsis at the visual midline.

In the Siamese cats, the callosal cell and termination zones in areas 17 and 18 were expanded in width compared to the normal animals, but the major components were less robust. The area 17/18 border was often devoid of callosal axons and, in particular, the number of supragranular layer neurons participating in the pathway were drastically reduced, to only about 25% of those found in the normally pigmented adults. The callosal zones contained representations of the contralateral and ipsilateral hemifields that were roughly mirror-symmetric about the vertical meridian, and both hemifield representations increased with decreasing visual elevation. The extent and severity of the anomalies observed were similar across individual cats, regardless of whether a strabismus was also present. The callosal pathway between these visual cortical areas in the Siamese cat has been considered “silent,” since nearly all neurons within its territory are activated only by the contralateral eye. The paucity of supragranular pyramidal neurons involved in the pathway may explain this silence.

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Keywords

Topographic organization, number, and laminar distribution of callosal cells connecting visual cortical areas 17 and 18 of normally pigmented and Siamese cats

  • Nancy E. J. Berman (a1) and Simon Grant (a2)

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