Preferential representation of the fovea in the primary visual cortex.
Azzopardi P., Cowey A.
The retinal fovea, which corresponds to the central degree or so of vision, is spatially over-represented in the visual cortex. It is about 0.01% of retina area, but at least 8% of the striate cortex. Does this simply reflect an equivalently uneven distribution of ganglion cells in the retina, or is the cortical representation of the fovea preferentially expanded? The answer hinges on the resolution of long-standing discrepancies between the retinal and cortical magnification factors. We approached the problem in a different way, using a retrograde transneuronal tracer from cortex to retina to relate directly the number of ganglion cells projecting to marked areas of striate cortex. We report here that ganglion cells near the fovea were allocated 3.3 to 5.9 times more cortical tissue than more peripheral ones, and conclude that the cortical representation of the most central retina is much greater than expected from the density of its ganglion cells.