Models of ganglion cell topography in the retina of macaque monkeys and their application to sensory cortical scaling.
Azzopardi P., Cowey A.
We devised mathematical models of the topography of ganglion cells in the retina of macaque monkeys. The models consisted of a sum-of-three exponentials function fitted to measurements of ganglion cell density made on the nasal horizontal meridian, combined with known anisotropies across the horizontal and vertical meridians by means of elliptic interpolation to provide a full description of their density across the whole of the retinal surface. Integration using standard numerical techniques allowed the number of ganglion cells in arbitrary regions of the retina to be estimated. The topography of actual and effective total ganglion cell populations, and of primate alpha and gamma retinal ganglion cells, was modelled on previously published data. The models were used to test the hypothesis that the retinal projection to the striate cortex in macaque monkeys is peripherally scaled (i.e. merely reflects the eccentricity-dependent variation in density of ganglion cells in the retina) by comparing the cumulative proportion of ganglion cells with the cumulative proportion of cortical area as a function of eccentricity in the visual field. Discrepancies between the two curves indicated that the fovea and immediately surrounding retina are overrepresented in the striate cortex (i.e. there is more cortex per ganglion cell in and near the fovea than in the periphery), and the fact that the discrepancies persisted out to 25-50 degrees of eccentricity showed that the overrepresentation cannot be explained by the lateral displacement of foveal ganglion cells.