The orientation selectivity, ocular dominance, and binocular disparity tuning of 272 cells in areas 17 and 18 of barbiturate-anesthetized, paralyzed cats were studied with automated, quantitative techniques. Disparity was varied along the axis orthogonal to each cell's best orientation. Binocular correspondence was established by means of a reference electrode positioned at the boundary of lamina A and Al in the area centralis representation of the lateral geniculate nucleus. Measures were derived that expressed each cell's disparity sensitivity and best disparity and the shape and slope of its tuning curve. Cells were found that corresponded to categories described by previous authors (“disparity-insensitive,” “tuned excitatory,” “near,” and “far” cells), but many others had intermediate response patterns, or patterns that were difficult to categorize. Quantitative analysis suggested that the various types belong to a continuum.
No relationship could be established between a cell's best orientation and its ocular dominance or any aspect of its disparity tuning. There was no relationship between a cell's ocular dominance and its sensitivity to disparity. Ocular dominance and best disparity were related. As reported by others, cells with best disparities close to zero (the fixation plane) tended to have balanced ocularity, while cells with best disparities in the near or far range had a broad distribution of ocular dominance. Among cells with receptive fields near the vertical meridian, those preferring far disparities tended to be dominated by the contralateral eye, and those preferring near disparities by the ipsilateral eye. It is suggested that this relationship follows from the geometry of near and far images and the pattern of decussation in the visual pathway. There was a significant grouping of cells with similar best disparities along tangential electrode tracks. We believe that this grouping is due to the columnar organization for ocular dominance and the relationship between ocular dominance and best disparity. No evidence was found for a columnar segregation of disparity-sensitive and disparity-insensitive cells.