Lateral suprasylvian visual cortex in the cat has been studied extensively, but its retinotopic organization remains controversial. Although some investigators have divided this region into many distinct areas, others have argued for a simpler organization. A clear understanding of the region’s retinotopic organization is important in order to define distinct areas that are likely to subserve unique visual functions. We therefore reexamined the map of the lower visual field in the striate-recipient region of lateral suprasylvian cortex, a region we refer to as the lateral suprasylvian area, LS.
A dual mapping approach was used. First, receptive fields were plotted at numerous locations along closely spaced electrode penetrations; second, different anterograde tracers were injected at retinotopically identified sites in area 17, yielding patches of label in LS. To visualize the resulting data, suprasylvian cortex was flattened with the aid of a computer.
Global features of the map reported in many earlier studies were confirmed. Central visual field was represented posteriorly, and elevations generally shifted downward as one moved anteriorly. Often (though not always) there was a progression from peripheral locations towards the vertical meridian as the electrode moved down the medial suprasylvian bank.
The map had some remarkable characteristics not previously reported in any map in the cat. The vertical meridian’s representation was split into two pieces, separated by a gap, and both pieces were partially internalized within the map. Horizontal meridian occupied the gap. The area centralis usually had a dual representation along the posterior boundary of the lower field representation, and other fragments of visual field were duplicated as well. Finally, magnification appeared to change abruptly and unexpectedly, so that compressed regions of representation adjoined expanded regions. Despite its complexity, we found the map to be more orderly than previously thought. There was no clearcut retinotopic basis on which to subdivide LS’s lower field representation into distinct areas.