Orientation-specific cortical responses develop in early infancy.
Braddick OJ., Wattam-Bell J., Atkinson J.
Neurones in the visual cortex of higher mammals differ from those elsewhere in the visual pathway in that the majority respond selectively to particular edge or bar orientations in the stimulus. We have developed a visually evoked potential (VEP) technique which isolates the response of orientation-selective mechanisms from that of cortical or sub-cortical neurones which lack orientation selectivity. We are unable to find such orientation-selective responses in newborn human infants within the sensitivity of our method, but repeated longitudinal testing of individual infants shows that measurable responses emerge around 6 weeks of age. This result is consistent with the idea that human cortical visual function is very immature at birth, but develops rapidly in the first two postnatal months.