Sensory experience modifies feature map relationships in visual cortex

Shaun L Cloherty, Nicholas J Hughes, Markus A Hietanen, Partha S Bhagavatula, Geoffrey J Goodhill, Michael R Ibbotson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The extent to which brain structure is influenced by sensory input during development is a critical but controversial question. A paradigmatic system for studying this is the mammalian visual cortex. Maps of orientation preference (OP) and ocular dominance (OD) in the primary visual cortex of ferrets, cats and monkeys can be individually changed by altered visual input. However, the spatial relationship between OP and OD maps has appeared immutable. Using a computational model we predicted that biasing the visual input to orthogonal orientation in the two eyes should cause a shift of OP pinwheels towards the border of OD columns. We then confirmed this prediction by rearing cats wearing orthogonally oriented cylindrical lenses over each eye. Thus, the spatial relationship between OP and OD maps can be modified by visual experience, revealing a previously unknown degree of brain plasticity in response to sensory input.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13911
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • brain development
  • cat
  • ocular dominance map
  • orientation pinwheel
  • orientation preference map
  • plasticity

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