This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: EVOLUTION OF IDEAS ON THE PRIMARY
VISUAL CORTEX, 1955-1978:
A BIASED HISTORICAL ACCOUNT
Nobel lecture, 8 December 1981
DAVID H. HUBEL
Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurobiology,
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. INTRODUCTION
In the early spring of 1958 I drove over to Baltimore from Washington, D.C.,
and in a cafeteria at Johns Hopkins Hospital met Stephen Kuffler and Torsten
Wiesel, for a discussion that was more momentous for Torsten’s and my future
than either of us could have possibly imagined.
I had been at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research for three years, in the
Neuropsychiatry Section headed by David Rioch, working under the supervision of M.G.F. Fuortes. I began at Walter Reed by developing a tungsten
microelectrode and a technique for using it to record from chronically implanted cats, and I had been comparing the firing of cells in the visual pathways of
sleeping and waking animals.
It was time for a change in my research tactics. In sleeping cats only diffuse
light could reach the retina through the closed eyelids. Whether the cat was
asleep or awake with eyes open, diffuse light failed to stimulate the cells in the
striate cortex. In waking animals I had succeeded in activating many cells with
moving spots on a screen, and had found that some cells were very selective in
that they responded when a spot moved in one direction across the screen (e.g.
from left to right) but not when it moved in the opposite direction (1) (Fig. 1).
There were many cells that I could not influence at all. Obviously there was a
gold mine in the visual cortex, but methods were needed that would permit the
recording of single cells for many hours, and with the eyes immobilized, if the
mine were ever to begin producing.
I had planned to do a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medical
School with Vernon Mountcastle, but the timing was awkward for him because
he was remodeling his laboratories. One day Kuffler called and asked if I
would like to work in his laboratory at the Wilmer Institute of Ophthalmology
at the Johns Hopkins Hospital with Torsten Wiesel, until the remodeling was
completed. That was expected to take about a year. I didn’t have to be
persuaded; some rigorous training in vision was just what I needed, and though
Kuffler himself was no longer working in vision the tradition had been maintained in his laboratory. Torsten and I had visited each other’s laboratories
and it was clear that we had common interests and similar outlooks. Kuffler
24 Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—l978... 25 Figure 1. Continuous recording from striate cortex of an unrestrained cat. In each dual trace the
lower member shows the microelectrode oscilloscope recording from two cells, one with large
impulses, the other smaller ones. The stimulus was small to-and-fro hand movements in front of the
cat. Each movement interrupted a light beam falling on a photoelectric cell, producing the notches
in the upper beam. The upper two pairs of records represent fast movements, the lower ones slower
movements. Each line represents 4 seconds. (1) suggested that I come over to discuss plans, and that was what led to the
meeting in the cafeteria.
It was not hard to decide what to do. Kuffler had described two types of
retinal ganglion cells, which he called “on-center” and “off-center”. The
receptive field of each type was made up of two mutually antagonistic regions, a
center and a surround, one excitatory and the other inhibitory. In 1957 Barlow,
FitzHugh and Kuffler had gone on to show that as a consequence retinal
ganglion cells are less sensitive to diffuse light than to a spot just filling the
receptive-field center (2). It took me some time to realize what this meant: that
the way a cell responds to any visual scene will change very little when, for
example, the sun goes behind a cloud and the light reflected from black and
white objects decreases by a large factor. The cell virtually ignores this change,
and our subjective assessment of the objects as black or white is likewise
practically unaffected. Kuffler’s center-surround receptive fields thus began to
explain why the appearance of objects depends so little on the intensity of the
light source. Some years later Edwin Land showed that the appearance of a
scene is similarly relatively independent of the exact color composition of the
light source. The physiological basis of this color independence has yet to be
The strategy (to return to our cafeteria) seemed obvious. Torsten and I
would simply extend Stephen Kuffler’s work to the brain; we would record
from geniculate cells and cortical cells, map receptive fields with small spots,
and look for any further processing of the visual information.
My reception in Kuffler’s office the first day was memorable. I was nervous
and out of breath. Steve at his desk, rotated around on his chair and said “Hi,
David! Take off your coat. Hang up your hat. Do up your fly.” His laboratory 26 Physiology or Medicine 1981 was informal! But it took me a month, given my Canadian upbringing, to force
myself to call him Steve. For the first three months no paycheck arrived and
finally I screwed up the courage to go in and tell him. He laughed and laughed,
and then said “I forgot!”
Torsten and I didn’t waste much time. Within a week of my coming to
Hopkins (to a dark and dingy inner windowless room of the Wilmer Institute
basement, deemed ideal for visual studies) we did our first experiment. For the
time being we finessed the geniculate (at Walter Reed I had convinced myself
that geniculate cells were center-surround) and began right away with cortex.
The going was rough. We had only the equipment for retinal stimulation and
recording that had been designed a few years before by Talbot and Kuffler (3).
A piece of apparatus resembling a small cyclotron held the anesthetized and
paralyzed cat with its head facing almost directly upwards. A modified ophthalmoscope projected a background light and a spot stimulus onto the retina.
The experimenter could look in, see the retina with its optic disc, area centralis
and blood vessels, and observe the background light and the stimulus spots.
Small spots of light were produced by sliding 2 cm X 5 cm metal rectangles
containing various sizes of holes into a slot in the apparatus, just as one puts a
slide into a slide projector. To obtain a black spot on a light background one
used a piece of glass like a microscope slide, onto which a black dot had been
glued. All this was ideal for stimulating the retina and recording directly from
retinal ganglion cells, since one could see the electrode tip and know where to
stimulate, but for cortical recording it was horrible. Finding a receptive field on
the retina was difficult, and we could never remember what part of the retina
we had stimulated. After a month or so WC decided to have the cat face a
projection screen, as I had at Walter Reed and as Talbot and Marshall had in
1941 (4). Having no other head holder, WC continued for a while to use the
ophthalmoscope’s head holder, which posed a problem since the cat was facing
directly up. To solve this we brought in some bed sheets which we slung
between the pipes and cobwebs that graced the ceiling of the Wilmcr basement,
giving the setup the aura of a circus tent. On the sheets we projected our spots
and slits. One day Vernon Mountcastle walked in on this scene, and was horror
struck at the spectacle. The method was certainly inconvenient since we had to
stare at the ceiling for the entire experiment. Then I remembered having seen
in Mountcastle’s laboratory a Horsley-Clarke head holder that was not only no
longer being used but also had the name of the Wilmer Institute engraved on it.
It was no other than the instrument that Talbot had designed for visual work
when he and Marshall mapped out visual areas I and II in the cat, in 1941 (4).
For years Vernon had used it in his somatosensory work, but he had recently
obtained a fancier one. Torsten and I decided to reclaim the Wilmer instrument, not without some trepidation. To give ourselves confidence we both put
on lab coats, for the first and last times in our lives, and looking very professional walked over to Physiology. Though Mountcastle was his usual friendly
and generous self, I suspect he was loath to part with this treasure, but the
inscription on the stainless steel was not to be denied and we walked off with it
triumphantly. It is still in use (now at Harvard: we literally stole it from the Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955-1978 … 27 Wilmer), and has probably the longest history of uninterrupted service of any
Horsley-Clarke in the world.
A short while before this adventure we had gone to a lecture by Vernon (this
was a few years after his discovery of cortical columns) (5) in which he had
amazed us by reporting on the results of recording from some 900 somatosensory cortical cells, for those days an astronomic number. WC knew we could
never catch up, so we catapulted ourselves to respectability by calling our first
cell No. 3000 and numbering subsequent ones from there. When Vernon
visited our circus tent we were in the middle of a S-unit recording, cell Nos.
3007, 3008, and 3009. We made sure that we mentioned their identification
numbers. All three cells had the same receptive-field orientation but neither
Vernon nor we realized, then, what that implied.
At times we were peculiarly inept. Our first perfusion of a cat was typical.
One morning at about 2:00 a.m. we had arranged two huge bottles on an
overhead shelf, for saline and formalin, and were switching over from saline to
formalin when the rubber tubing came off the outlet of the formalin bottle and
gave us an acrid early morning cold shower. We did not relish being preserved
at so young an age! The reference to 2:00 a.m. perhaps deserves some comment, because neurophysiologists, at least those who study animals, have the
reputation of doing experiments that last for days without respite. We soon
found that such schedules were not for us. I knew we were losing traction in an
experiment when Torsten began to talk to me in Swedish; usually this was
around 3:00 a.m. The longest experiment we ever did was one in which I
arrived home just as my family was sitting down for breakfast. I had almost
driven off the road on the way back. At the risk of becoming what Mountcastle
termed “part-time scientists” we decided to be more lenient with ourselves,
giving the deteriorating condition of the animal as the official reason for
Our first real discovery came about as a surprise. We had been doing
experiments for about a month. We were still using the Talbot-Kuffler ophthalmoscope and were not getting very far: the cells simply would not respond to
our spots and annuli. One day we made an especially stable recording. (We
had adapted my chronic recording system, which made use of Davies’ idea of a
closed chamber (6). to the acute experimental animals, and no vibrations short
of an earthquake were likely to dislodge things.) The cell in question lasted 9
hours, and by the end we had a very different feeling about what the cortex
might be doing. For 3 or 4 hours we got absolutely nowhere. Then gradually we
began to elicit some vague and inconsistent responses by stimulating somewhere in the midperiphery of the retina. We were inserting the glass slide with
its black spot into the slot of the ophthalmoscope when suddenly over the
audiomonitor the cell went off like a machine gun. After some fussing and
fiddling we found out what was happening. The response had nothing to do
with the black dot. As the glass slide was inserted its edge was casting onto the
retina a faint but sharp shadow, a straight dark line on a light background.
That was what the cell wanted, and it wanted it, moreover, in just one narrow
range of orientations. 28 Physiology or Medicine 1981 This was unheard of. It is hard, now, to think back and realize just how free
we were from any idea of what cortical cells might be doing in an animal’s daily
life. That the retinas mapped onto the visual cortex in a systematic way was of
course well known, but it was far from clear what this apparently unimaginative remapping was good for. It seemed inconceivable that the information
would enter the cortex and leave it unmodified, especially when Kuffler’s work
in the retina had made it so clear that interesting transformations took place
there between input and output. One heard the word “analysis” used to
describe what the cortex might be doing, but what one was to understand by
that vague term was never spelled out. In the somatosensory cortex, the only
other cortical area being closely scrutinized, Mountcastle had found that the
cells had properties not dramatically different from those of neurons at earlier
Many of the ideas about cortical function then in circulation seem in retrospect almost outrageous. One has only to remember the talk of “suppressor
strips”, reverberating circuits. or electrical field effects. This last notion was
taken so seriously that no less a figure than our laureate-colleague Roger Sperry
had had to put it to rest, in 1955, by dicing up the cortex with mica plates to
insulate the subdivisions, and by skewering it with tantalum wire to short out
the fields, neither of which procedures seriously impaired cortical function (7,
8). Nevertheless the idea of ephaptic interactions was slow to die out. There
were even doubts as to the existence of topographic representation, which was
viewed by some as a kind of artifact. One study, in which a spot of light
projected anywhere in the retina evoked potentials all over the visual cortex,
was interpreted as a refutation of topographic representation, but the result
almost certainly came from working with a dark-adapted cat and a spot so
bright that it scattered light all over the retina. It is surprising, in retrospect,
that ideas of non-localization could survive in the face of the masterly mapping
of visual fields onto the cortex in rabbit. cat and monkey done by Talbot and
Marshall far back in 1941 (4).
It took us months to convince ourselves that we weren’t at the mercy of some
optical artifact, such as anyone can produce by squinting one’s eyes and
making vertical rays emanate from street lights. We didn’t want to make fools
of ourselves quite so early in our careers. But recording in sequence in the same
penetration several cells with several different optimal orientations would. I
think, have convinced anyone. By January we were ready to take the cells we
thought we could understand (we later called them “simple cells”) and write
them up. Then as always what guided and sustained us was the attitude of
Stephen Kuffler, who never lectured or preached but simply reacted with
buoyant enthusiasm whenever he thought we had found something interesting.
and acted vague and noncommittal when hc found something dull. Neither of
us will ever forget writing our first abstract, for the International Congress of
Physiology in 1959 (9). We labored over it, and finally gave a draft to Kuffler.
The following day when I came in Torsten was looking more glum than usual,
and said “I don’t think Steve much liked our abstract”. It was clear enough
that Kuffler wasn’t quite satisfied: his comments and suggestions contained Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—l978 … Figure 2. First draft our first abstract (8), showing comments by Kuffler. more words than our original (Fig. 2) ! Writing, it may be added, did not come
easy to either of us at the beginning, and our first paper, in 1959 (10) went
through eleven complete reworkings.
HIERARCHY OF VISUAL CELLS
During the years 1959-62, first at the Wilmer Institute and then at Harvard
Medical School, we were mainly concerned with comparing responses of cells
in the lateral geniculate body and primary visual cortex of the cat. In the lateral
geniculate we quickly confirmed my Walter Reed finding that the receptive 30 Physiology or Medicine 1981 fields are like those of retinal ganglion cells in having an antagonistic concentric
center-surround organization. But now we could compare directly the responses of a geniculate cell with those of a fiber from an afferent retinal
ganglion cell, and we found that in geniculate cells the power of the receptivefield surround to cancel the input from the center was increased. This finding
was subsequently confirmed and extended in a beautiful set of experiments by
Cleland, Dubin and Levick (1l), and for many years remained the only known
function of the lateral geniculate body.
In the cat striate cortex it soon became evident that cells were more complex
than geniculate cells, and came in several degrees of complexity (12). One set of
cells could be described by techniques similar to those used in the retina by
Kuffler; we called these “simple”. Their receptive fields, like the fields of retinal
ganglion cells and of lateral geniculate cells, were subdivided into antagonistic
regions illumination of any one of which tended to increase or decrease the rate
of firing. But simple cells differed from retinal ganglion cells and lateral
geniculate cells in the striking departure of their receptive fields from circular
symmetry; instead of a single circular boundary between center and surround
the antagonistic subdivisions were separated by parallel straight lines whose
orientation (vertical, horizontal or oblique) soon emerged as a fundamental
property (Fig. 3a). The optimal stimulus, either a slit, dark bar or edge, was
easily predictable from the geometry of the receptive field, so that a stationary
line stimulus worked optimally when its boundaries coincided with the boundaries of the subdivisions (Fig. 3c), and displacing the line to a new position
parallel to the old one generally resulted in a sharp decline in the response.
Perhaps most remarkable of all was the precise nature of the spatial distribution of excitatory and inhibitory effects: not only did diffuse light produce no
response (as though the excitatory and inhibitory effects were mutually cancelling with the precision of an acid-base titration), but any line oriented at 90° to
the optimal was also without effect, regardless of its position along the field,
suggesting that the subpopulations of receptors so stimulated also had precisely
mutually cancelling effects.
In the cat, simple cells are mostly found in layer IV, which is the site of
termination of the bulk of the afferents from the lateral geniculate body. The
exact connections that lead to orientation specificity are still not known, but it
is easy to think of plausible circuits. For example, the behavior of one of the
commonest kinds of simple cells may be explained by supposing that the cell
receives convergent excitatory input from a set of geniculate cells whose oncenters are distributed in overlapping fashion over a straight line (Fig. 3b). In
the monkey, the cells of Layer IVc (where most geniculate fibers terminate)
seem all to be concentric center-surround, and the simple cells are probably
mainly in the layers immediately superficial to IVc. No one knows why this
extra stage of center-surround cells is intercalated in the monkey’s visual
The next set of cells we called “complex” because their properties cannot be
derived in a single logical step from those of lateral geniculate cells (or, in the
monkey, from the concentric cells of layer IVc). For the complex cell, com- Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—l978 … E 32 Physiology or Medicine I981 pared to the simple cell, the position of an optimally oriented line need not be
so carefully specified: the line works anywhere in the receptive field, evoking
about the same response wherever it is placed (Fig. 4a). This can most easily be
explained by supposing that the complex cel1 receives inputs from many simple
cells, all of whose receptive fields have the same orientation but differ slightly in
position (Fig. 4b). Sharpness of tuning for orientation varies from cell to cell,
but the optimal orientation of a typical complex cell in layer II or III in the
monkey can be easily determined to the nearest 5-l0º, with no more equipment than a slide projector.
For a complex cell, a properly oriented line produces especially powerful
responses when it is swept across the receptive field (Fig. 4c). The discharge is
generally well sustained as long as the line keeps moving, but falls off quickly if
the stimulus is stationary. About half of the complex cells fire much better to
one direction of movement than to the opposite direction, a quality called Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—1978 … 33 a) Figure 4. a) Complex cell responding best to a black horizontally oriented rectangle placed
anywhere in the receptive field (A-C). Tilting the stimulus rendered it ineffective (D, E).
b) Same cell, showing response to a moving horizontal bar, downward movement better
than upward (A), and no response to a moving vertical bar (B) Time 1 sec. (Figs. 7 and 8 (12)).
c) Possible scheme for explaining the organization of complex receptive fields. A number of cells
with simple fields, of which three are shown schematically, are imagined to project to a single
cortical cell of higher order. Each projecting neuron has a receptive field arranged as shown to the
left: an excitatory region to the left and an inhibitory region to the right of a vertical straight-line
boundary. The boundaries of the fields are staggered within an area outlined by the interrupted
lines. Any vertical-edge stimulus falling across this rectangle, regardless of its position, will
excite some simple-field cells, leading to excitation of the higher-order cell. (Fig. 20 (12)). 34 Physiology or Medicine 1981 “directional selectivity”, which probably cannot be explained by any simple
projection of simple cells onto complex cells, but seems to require inhibitory
connections with time delays of the sort proposed by Barlow and Levick for
rabbit retinal ganglion cells (13).
Many cells, perhaps l0-20% in area 17‘ of cat or monkey, respond best to a
line (a slit, edge or dark bar) of limited length; when the line is prolonged in one
direction or both, the response falls off. This is called “end stopping”. In some
cells the response to a very long line fails completely (Fig. 5) ( 14). We originally
called these cells “hypercomplex” because we looked upon them as next in an
ordered hierarchical series, after simple and complex. We saw hypercomplex
cells first in areas 18 and 19 of the cat, and only later in area 17. Dreher
subsequently found cells, in all other ways resembling simple cells, that showed
a similar fall-off in response as the length of the stimulus exceeded some
optimum (15). It seems awkward to call these cells hypercomplex; they are
probably better termed “simple end-stopped” in contrast to “complex endstopped”.
Complex cells come in a wide variety of subtypes. Typical cells of layer II
and III have relatively small receptive fields, low spontaneous activity, and in
the monkey may not only be highly orientation selective but also fussy about
wave length, perhaps responding to red lines but not white. They may or may
not be end-stopped. Cells in layers V and VI have larger fields. Those in V
have high spontaneous activity and many respond just as well to a very short
moving line as to long one. Many cells in layer VI respond best to very long
lines (16). These differences are doubtless related to the important fact, first
shown with physiologic techniques by Toyama, Matsunami and Ohno (17)
and confirmed and extended by anatomical techniques, that different layers
project to different destinations - the upper layers mainly to other cortical
regions, the fifth layer to the superior colliculus, pons and pulvinar, and VI
back to the lateral geniculate body and to the claustrum.
In the last 10 or 15 years the subject of cortical receptive-held types has
become rather a jungle, partly because the terms ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ are
used differently by different people, and undoubtedly partly because the categories themselves are not cleanly separated. Our idea originally was to empha- Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—1978 … Figure 5. Hypercomplex cell, responding to a black bar oriented 2:30—8:30, moving
downward. Optimum response occurred when stimulus swept over area outlined (C); stimulating more than this region (D-H) or less (A, B) resulted in a weaker response. Sweep
duration 2.5 sec. (Fig. 19 (14)). 35 36 Physiology or Medicine 1981 size the tendency toward increased complexity as one moves centrally along the
visual path, and the possibility of accounting for a cell’s behavior in terms of its
inputs. The circuit diagrams we proposed were just a few examples from a
number of plausible possibilities. Even today the actual circuit by which
orientation specificity is derived from center-surround cells is not known, and
indeed the techniques necessary for solving this may still not be available. One
can nevertheless say that cells of different complexities, whose receptive fields
are in the same part of the visual field and which have the same optimal
orientation, are likely to be interconnected, whereas cells with different optimal
orientations arc far less likely to be interconnected. In the monkey a major
difficulty with the hierarchical scheme as outlined here is the relative scarcity of
simple cells, compared with the huge numbers of cells with concentric fields in
IVc, or compared with the large number of complex cells above and below
layer IV. The fact that the simple cells have been found mainly in layer IVb
also agrees badly with Jennifer Lund’s finding that layer IVcß projects not to
layer IVb but to layer III. One has to consider the possibility that in the
monkey the simple-cell step may be skipped, perhaps by summing the inputs
from cells in layer IV on dendrites of complex cells. In such a scheme each
main dendritic branch of a complex cell would perform the function of a simple
cell. All such speculation serves only to emphasize our ignorance of the exact
way in which the properties of complex cells are built up.
Knowing how cortical cells respond !o some visual stimuli and ignore others
allows us to predict how a cell will react to any given visual scene. Most cortical
cells respond poorly to diffuse light, so that when I gaze at a white object on a
dark background, say an egg, I know that those cells in my area 17 whose
receptive fields fall entirely within the boundaries of the object will be unaffectcd. Only the fields that are cut by the borders of the egg will be influenced, and
then only if the local orientation of a border is about the same as the orientation
of the receptive field. A slight change in position of the egg without changing its
orientation will produce a dramatic change in the population of activated
simple cells, but a much smaller change in the activated complex cells.
Orientation-specific simple or complex cells “detect” or are specific for the
direction of a short line segment. The cells are thus best not thought of as “line
detectors”: they arc no more line detectors than they are curve detectors. If our
perception of a certain line or curve depends on simple or complex cells it
presumably depends on a whole set of them, and how the information from
such sets of cells is assembled at subsequent stages in the path, to build up what
we call “percepts” of lines or curves (if indeed anything like that happens at
all), is still a complete mystery.
When I began my training in neurophysiology at Walter Reed I was lucky
enough to be influenced by new and vigorous traditions of experimental neuroanatomy, represented by Walle Nauta, and by a new blend of neuroanatomy
and neurophysiology represented at Walter Reed, Johns Hopkins, and the
National Institutes of Health by (among others) Jerzy Rose, Vernon Mount- Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—l978 … 37 castle, and Robert Galambos. One day very near the beginning of my term at
Walter Reed, Jerzy Rose, on the steps of the Research Institute, very sternly
told me that I had better make it my business to know exactly where my
recording electrode was. I subsequently began to use the Hopkins – Walter
Reed technique of making one electrode track or several parallel tracks through
cortex, recording as many cells as possible in each track and then reconstructing the tracks from the histology. This made it possible to work out the
response properties of single cells and also to learn how they were grouped. It
was put to use most dramatically by Vernon Mountcastle, whose discovery of
columns in the somatosensory cortex was surely the single most important
contribution to the understanding of cerebral cortex since Cajal. Our addition
to the reconstruction technique was the strategy of making multiple small
(roughly 100 pm diameter) electrolytic lesions along each track by passing
small currents through the tungsten electrodes. I worked out this method at
Walter Reed by watching the coagulation produced at the electrode tip on
passing currents through egg white. The lesions made it possible to be sure of
the positions of at least several points along a track; other positions were
determined by interpolating depth readings of the microelectrode advancer.
By the early 1960s our research had extended into four different but overlapping areas. Closest to conventional neurophysiology was the working out of
response properties (i.e. receptive fields) of single cells. We became increasingly involved with architecture, the grouping of cells according to function
into layers and columns, studied by track reconstructions. This led in turn to
experiments in which single-cell recording was combined with experimental
anatomy. It began when one day James Sprague called to tell us that his chief
histological technician, Jane Chen, was moving to Boston and needed a job:
could we take her? Luckily we did, and so, despite our not possessing anatomical union cards, we acquired an expert in the Nauta method of making lesions
in nervous tissue and selectively staining the degenerating axons. It seemed a
terrible waste not to use this method and we soon got the idea of working out
detailed pathways by making microelectrode lesions that were far smaller than
conventional lesions and could be precisely placed by recording with the same
electrodes. It became possible to make lesions in single layers of the lateral
geniculate body, with results to be discussed shortly. Finally, still another
phase of our work involved studies of newborn animals’ postnatal development,
and the effects of distorting normal sensory experience in young animals. This
began in 1962 and grew steadily. Torsten Wiesel will discuss these experiments.
Having mentioned Jane Chen, this is perhaps as good a place as any to
acknowledge our tremendous debt to many research assistants who have
helped us over the past 22 years, especially to Jane and to Janet Wiitanen and
Bea Storai, and also to Jaye Robinson, Martha Egan, Joan Weisenbeck, Karen
Larson, Sharon Mates, Debra Hamburger, Yu-Wen Wu, Sue Fenstemaker,
Stella Chow, Sarah Kennedy, Maureen Packard and Mary Nastuk. For photographic assistance I am grateful to Sandra Spinks, Carolyn Yoshikami and
Marc Peloquin. In electronics and computers David Freeman has continued to 38 Physiology or Medicine 1981 amaze us with his wizardry for 12 years. And for secretarial help and preservation of morale and sanity I want to thank Sheila Barton, Pat Schubert and
What our three simultaneously recorded cells, Nos. 3009, 3010 and 3011,
mapped out on the overhead sheet in September 1958, with their parallel
orientation axes and separate but overlapping field positions, were telling us
was that neighboring cells have similar orientations but slightly different Figure 6. a) Brain of a macaque monkey, perfused with formalin, viewed from above and behind.
The occipital lobe is demarcated in front by the lunate sulcus (L) and consists mainly of the striate
cortex, area 17, which occupies most of the smooth surface, extending forward to the dotted line
(the 17 – 18 border). If followed medially area 17 curves around the medial surface of the brain and
continues in a complex buried fold, a part of which lies underneath the convexity and parallel to it.
X marks the projection of the fovea; movement in the direction of the arrow corresponds to
movement along the horizon; movement along the dotted line, to movement down along the
vertical midline of the visual field. The brain on removal from the skull does not, of course, look
exactly like this: the groove in the right hemisphere was made by removing a parasagittal block of
tissue to produce the cross section of Fig. 6b. (Fig. 6a (29)).
b) Low power Nissl-stained section from a parasagittal block such as that of Fig. 6a. It is what
would be seen if one could stand in the groove of 6a and look to the left. A marks the outer
convexity; B the buried fold, and arrows indicate the 17 – 18 borders, the upper right one of which is
indicated by the dotted line in Fig. 6a. (Fig. 6b (29)).
c) Cross section through monkey striate cortex showing conventional layering designations. W, white matter. Deeper layers (VI, V) of the buried fold of cortex are shown in the lower
part of the figure (compare Fig. 6b). Cresyl violet. (Fig. 10 (29)). Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—1978 … receptive-field positions. We of course knew about our visitor Mountcastle’s
somatosensory colums, and we began to suspect that cells might be grouped in
striate cortex according to orientation; but to prove it was not easy.
Our first indication of the beauty of the arrangements of cell groupings came
in 1961 in one of our first recordings from striate cortex of monkey, a spider
monkey named George. In one penetration, which went into the cortex at an
angle of about 45° and was 2.5 mm long, we were struck right away by
something we had only seen hints of before: as the electrode advanced the
orientations of successively recorded cells progressed in small steps, of about
10° for every advance of 50 µm. We began the penetration around 8:00 p.m.;
five hours later we had recorded 53 successive orientations without a single Physiology or Medicine I981 Figure 7. a) Reconstruction of a penetration through striate cortex about 1 mm from 17-18
border, near occipital pole of a spider monkey called George. To the left of the figure the lines
indicate receptive-field orientations of cells in the columns traversed; each line represents one or
several units recorded against a rich unresolved background activity. Arrows indicate reversal of
directions of shifts in orientation (32).
b) Graph of stimulus orientation in degrees vs. distance along electrode track in mm, in the
experiment shown in (a). Vertical is taken as O°, clockwise is positive, anticlockwise negative. Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—l978 … 41 /X3I o- large jump in orientation (Fig. 7). During the entire time, in which I wielded
the slide projector and Torsten mapped the fields, neither of us moved from our
seats. Fortunately our fluid intake that day had not been excessive! I have
shown this illustration many times. So far only one person, Francis Crick, has
asked why there was no interruption in layer IVc, where according to dogma
the cells are not orientation-specific. The answer is that I don’t know.
In the cat we had had occasional suggestions of similar orderliness, and so
we decided to address directly the problem of the shape and arrangement of the
groupings (18). By making several closely-spaced oblique parallel penetrations
we convinced ourselves that the groupings were really columns in that they
extended from surface to white matter and had walls that were perpendicular
to the layers (Fig. 8). We next made multiple close-spaced penetrations,
advancing the electrode just far enough in each penetration to record one cell or
a group of cells. To map a few square mm of cortex this way required 50–100
penetrations, each of which took about l0–15 minutes. We decided it might be
better to change careers, perhaps to chicken farming. But although the experiments were by our standards exhausting they did succeed in showing that
orientation columns in the cat are not generally pillars but parallel slabs that
intersect the surface either as straight parallel stripes or swirls (Fig. 9).
Reversals in direction of orientation shift, like those shown in Fig. 7, are
found in most penetrations. They occur irregularly, on the average about once
every millimeter, and not at any particular orientation such as vertical or
horizontal. We still do not know how to interpret them. Between reversals the
plots of orientation vs. electrode position are remarkably linear (19). I once, to
exercise a new programmable calculator, actually determined the coefficient of
linear correlation of such a graph. It was 0.998, which I took to mean that the line
must be very straight indeed. 42 Physiology or Medicine 1981 Figure 8. Coronal section through cat visual cortex showing reconstructions of 6 parallel microelectrode penetrations. (Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 end with lesions shown as circles.) Short lines perpendicular to tracks indicate receptive-field orientation; lines perpendicular to tracks represent horizontal orientation. (The longer of these lines represent single cells, the shorter ones, multiple unit
recordings). Most of the territory traversed by penetrations 2-5 is in one orientation column,
whose left hand border lies at the ends of tracks 2-4. Scale 1 mm. (Fig. 2 (18)). For some years we had the impression that regular sequences like the one
shown in Fig. 7 are rare - that most sequences are either more or less random or
else the orientation hovers around one angle for some distance and then goes to
a new angle and hovers there. Chaos and hovering do occur but they are
exceptional, as are majorjumps of 45-90°. It took us a long time to realize that
regularity is the rule, not the exception, probably because only around the mid1970s did we begin making very oblique or tangential penetrations. Also for
these experiments to be successful requires electrodes coarse enough to record
activity throughout a penetration, and not simply every 100 µm or so. Such
electrodes look less aesthetically pleasing, a fact that I think has happily tended
to keep down competition.
Our attempts to learn more about the geometry oforientation columns in the
monkey by using the 2-deoxyglucose technique (20) suggest that iso-orientation lines form a periodic pattern but arc far from straight, being full of swirls
and interruptions. Experiments done since then (21) suggest that the deoxyglucase is possibly also labelling the cytochrome blobs (see below). Similar work in
the tree shrew by Humphrey (22) has shown a much more regular pattern and
Stryker, Wiesel and I have seen more regularity in the cat (unpublished). Both
tree shrew and cat lack the cytochrome blobs. Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—l978 … Figure 9. Surface map of a small region of cat visual cortex. Receptive field orientations are shown
for 32 superficial penetrations. Regions of relatively constant orientation run more or less right-toleft in the figure, or media-lateral on the brain (see inset). Going from above down, in the figure, or
from posterior to anterior of the brain, is associated with anticlockwise rotation. Scale 1 mm;
inset scale 1 cm. (Plate 2 (18)). OCULAR DOMINANCE COLUMNS
A major finding in our 1959 and 1962 papers (10, 12), besides the orientation
selectivity, was the presence in the striate cortex of a high proportion of
binocular cells. Since recordings from the lateral geniculate body had made it
clear that cells at that stage are for all practical purposes monocular, this
answered the question of where, in the retinogeniculocortical pathway, cells 44 Physiology or Medicine 1981 first received convergent input from the two eyes. More interesting to us than
the mere binocularity was the similarity of a given cell’s receptive fields in the
two eyes, in size, complexity, orientation and position. Presumably this forms
the basis of the fusion of the images in the two eyes. It still seems remarkable
that a cell should not only be wired with the precision necessary to produce
complex or hypercomplex properties, but should have a duplicate set of such
connections, one from each eye. (That this is hard wired at birth will form some
of the material for Torsten Wiesel’s lecture.) Though the optimum stimulus is
the same for the two eyes, the responses evoked are not necessarily equal; for a
given cell one eye is often better than the other. It is as if the two sets of
connections were qualitatively similar but, for many cells, different in density.
W C t ermed this relative effectiveness of the two eyes “eye preference” or
“relative ocular dominance”.
In the macaque it was evident from the earliest experiments that neighboring
cells have similar eye preferences. In vertical penetrations the preference
remains the same all the way through the cortex. Layer IVc, in which cells are
monocular, is an exception; here the eye that above and below layer IV merely
dominates the cells actually monopolizes them. In penetrations that run parallel to the layers there is an alternation of eye preference, with shifts roughly I Figure 10. Scheme to illustrate the wiring of a binocular cell in a layer above (or below) layer IVc.
The bulk of the afferents to the striate cortex from the lateral geniculate body, themselves
monocular, are in the macaque monkey strictly segregated by eye affiliation in layer IVC , and thus
the cells in this layer are strictly monocular. A cell outside of IVC , labelled X in the diagram,
receives its input connections, directly or indirectly by one or more synapses, from cells in IVc (to
some extent also, perhaps, from layers IVa and VI). Cells in IVc will be more likely to feed into X
the closer they are to it; consequently X is likely to be binocular, dominated by the eye corresponding to the nearest patch in IVc. The degree of dominance by that eye is greater, the closer X is to
being centered in its ocular dominance column, and cells near a boundary may be roughly
equally influenced by the two eyes. (Fig. 12 (29)). Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—I978 … 45 every 0.5 mm. The conclusion is that the terminals from cells of the lateral
geniculate distribute themselves in layer IVc according to eye of origin, in
alternating patches about 0.5 mm wide. In the layers above and below layer IV
horizontal and diagonal connections lead to a mixing that is incomplete, so that
a cell above a given patch is dominated by the eye supplying that patch but
receives subsidiary input from neigh boring patches (Fig. 10).
The geometry of these layer-IV patches interested us greatly, and was finally
determined by several independent anatomical methods, the first of which
involved the Nauta method and modifications of the Nauta method for staining
terminals worked out first by Fink and Heimer and then by a most able and
energetic research assistant, Janet Wiitanen (23). By making small lesions in
single geniculate layers we were able to see the patchy distribution of degenerating terminals in layer IV, which in a face-on view takes the form not of
circumscribed patches but of parallel stripes. We also showed that the ventral
(magnocellular) pair of layers projects to the upper half of IVc, (subsequently
called IVc a by Jennifer Lund), whereas the dorsal 4 layers project to the lower
half (IVc ß), and that the line of Gennari (IVb), once thought to receive the
strongest projection, is actually almost bereft of geniculate terminals. Figure I I. Dark-field autoradiograph of striate cortex in an adult macaque in which the ipsilateral
eye had been injected with tritiated proline-fucose 2 weeks before. Labelled areas show as white.
Section passes in a plane roughly perpendicular to the exposed surface of the occipital lobe, and to
the buried part immediately beneath (roughly, through the arrow of Fig. 6a). In all, about 5 6
labelled patches can be seen. (Fig. 22 (29)). 46 l’hysiology or Medicine 1981 While the Nauta studies were still in progress we read a paper in which
Bernice Grafstein reported that after injecting a radioactive aminoacid into the
eye of a rat, radioactive label could be detected in the contralateral visual
cortex, as though transneuronal transport had taken place in the geniculate
(24). (The rat retinogeniculocortical pathway is mainly crossed.) It occurred to
us that if we injected the eye of a monkey we might be able to see label
autoradiographically in area 17. We tried it, but could see nothing. Soon after,
while visiting Ray Guillery in Wisconsin, I saw some aminoacid transport
autoradiographs which showed nothing in light field but in which label was
perfectly obvious in dark field. I rushed back, we got out our slides, borrowed a
dark-field condenser, and found beautiful alternating patches throughout all
the binocular part of area 17 (25) (Fig. 11). This method allowed us to
reconstruct ocular dominance columns over much wider expanses than could
be mapped with the Nauta method (Fig. 12). It led to a study of the pre- and
postnatal visual development of ocular dominance columns, and the effects of
visual deprivation on the columns, which Torsten will describe. Figure 12. Autoradioagraphs from the same (normal) animal as Fig. 11, but hemisphere
contralateral to the injected eye (dark field).
a) A section tangential to the exposed dome-like surface of the occipital lobe, just grazing layer
V, which appears as an oval, surrounded by layer IVc. which appears as a ring containing the
labelled parallel bands: these appear as light against the dark background.
b) A composite made by cutting out layer IVc from a number of parallel sections such as the one
shown in (a), and pasting them together to show the bands over an area some millimeters in extent.
c) Reconstruction of layer IVc ocular dominance columns over the entire exposed part of area 17
in the right occipital lobe, made from a series of reduced-silver sections (33). The region represented is the same as the part of the right occipital lobe shown in Fig. 6a. Dotted line on the
represents the midsagittal plane where the cortex bends around. Dashed c-shaped curve is
17-18 border, whose apex, to the extreme right, represents the fovea. Every other column
been blackened in, so as to exhibit the twofold nature of the set of subdivisions. Note
relative constancy of column widths. left
the Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—l978 … 47 48 Physiology or Medicine 1981 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COLUMNS, MAGNIFICATION AND
To me the main pleasures of doing science are in getting ideas for experiments,
doing surgery, designing and making equipment, and above all the rare moments in which some apparently isolated facts click into place like a Chinese
puzzle. When a collaboration works, as ours has, the ideas and the clicking into
place often occur simultaneously or collaboratively; usually neither of us has
known (or cared) exactly where or from whom ideas came from, and sometimes
one idea has occurred to one of us, only to be forgotten and later resurrected by
the other. One of the most exciting moments was the realization that our
orientation columns, extending through the full thickness of the cat cortex,
contain just those simple and complex cells (later we could add the hypercomplex) that our hierarchical schemes had proposed were interconnected (12).
This gave the column a meaning: a little machine that takes care of contours in
a certain orientation in a certain part of the visual field. If the cells of one set are
to be interconnected, and to some extent isolated from neighboring sets, it
makes obvious sense to gather them together. As Lorente de Nó showed (26),
most of the connections in the cortex run in an up-and-down direction; lateral
or oblique connections tend to be short (mostly limited to 1 to 2 mm) and less
rich. These ideas were not entirely new, since Mountcastle had clearly enunciated the principle of the column as an independent unit of function. What was
new in the visual cortex was a clear function, the transformation of information
from circularly symmetric form to orientation-specific form, and the stepwise
increase in complexity.
A similar argument applies to the ocular dominance columns, a pair of which
constitutes a machine for combining inputs from the two eyes-combining, but
not completely combining, in a peculiar grudging way and for reasons still not
at all clear, but probably related in some way to stereopsis. (Whatever the
explanation of the systematically incomplete blending, it will have to take into
account the virtual but not complete absence of dominance columns in squirrel
monkeys.) If the eyes are to be kept functionally to some extent separate, it is
economical of connections to pack together cells of a given eye preference.
To my mind our most aesthetically attractive and exciting formulation has
been the hypercolumn (not, I admit, a very attractive term!) and its relation to
magnification. The idea grew up gradually, but took an initial spurt as a result
of a question asked by Werner Reichardt during a seminar that I gave in
Tübingen. I had been describing the ordered orientation sequences found in
monkeys like George, when Werner asked how one avoided the difficulty
arising from the fact that as you move across the cortex visual field position is
changing, in addition to orientation. Could this mean that if you looked closely
you would find, in one small part of the visual field, only a small select group of
orientations represented? The answer seemed obvious: I explained that in any
one part of the visual field all orientations are represented, in fact probably
several times over. Afterwards the question nagged me. There must be more to
it than that. We began to put some seemingly isolated facts together. The visual Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—1978 … 49 fields map systematically onto the cortex but the map is distorted: the fovea is
disproportionately represented, with 1 mm about equivalent to l/6° of visual
field. As one goes out in the visual field the representation falls off, logarithmically, as Daniel and Whitteridge had shown (27), so that in the far periphery
the relationship is more like 1 mm = 6°. Meanwhile the average size of receptive fields grows from center of gaze to periphery. This is not unexpected when
one considers that in the fovea our acuity is very much higher than in the
periphery. To do the job in more detail takes more cells, each looking after a
smaller region; to accommodate the cells takes more cortical surface area. I had
always been surprised that the part of the cortex representing the fovea is not
obviously thicker than that representing the periphery: the surprise, I suppose,
comes from the fact that in the retina near the fovea the ganglion cell layer is
many times thicker than in the periphery. The cortex must be going out of its Figure 13. a) Receptive-field scatter: Receptive&Id boundaries of 17 cells recorded in a penetration through monkey striate cortex in a direction perpendicular to the surface. Note the variation in
size, and the more or less random scatter in the precise positions of the fields. The penetration was
made in a part of the cortex corresponding to a visual field location 10º from the center of gaze, just
above the horizontal meridian. Fields are shown for one eye only. Numbers indicate the order
in which the cells were recorded. (Fig. 1 (28)).
b) Receptive-field drift: Receptive fields mapped during one oblique, almost tangential penetration through striate cortex, in roughly the same region as in (a). A few fields were mapped along
each of four 100 µm segments, spaced at 1 mm intervals. These four groups of fields are labelled 0,
1, 2 and 3. Each new set of fields was slightly above the other, in the visual field, as predicted from
the direction of movement of the electrode and from the topographic map of visual fields onto
cortex. Roughly a 2 mm movement through cortex was required to displace the fields from
one region to an entirely new region. (Fig. 2 (28)). 50 Physiology or Medicine 1981 -e-m---e--m----- way to keep its uniformity by devoting to the detailed tasks more area rather
than more thickness.
We decided to look more carefully at the relationship between receptive-field
size and area of cortex per unit area of visual field (28). When an electrode is
pushed vertically through the cortex and encounters a hundred or so cells in
traversing the full thickness, the receptive fields vary to some extent in size, and
in a rather random way in position, so that the hundred maps when superimposed cover an area several times that of an average receptive field (Fig. 13a).
We call this the “aggregate receptive field” for a particular point on the cortex.
On making a penetration parallel to the surface there is a gradual drift in field
position, superimposed on the random staggering, in a direction dictated by the
topographic map (Fig. 13b). We
an to wonder whether there was any law
connecting the rate of this drift in aggregate position and the size of the fields. It
was easy to get a direct answer. It turned out that a movement of about 2 mm
across the cortex is just sufficient to produce a displacement, in the visual field,
out of the region where one started and into an entirely new region. This held
everywhere across the striate cortex (and consequently in the visual field). In
the fovea the displacement was tiny and so were the fields. As one went out,
both increased in size, in parallel fashion (Fig. 14). Now things indeed seemed
to mesh. George and other monkeys had taught us that a l-2 mm movement
across cortex is accompanied by an angular shift in receptive-field orientation
of 180-360°, more than one full complement of orientations. We have termed
such a set of orientation columns (180º) a “hypercolumn”. Meanwhile, the Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—l978 … 51 CORTEX VISUAL FIELD Figure 14. Variation of receptive-field drift with eccentricity: The diagram represents one quadrant
of the field of vision, and the circles represent aggregate receptive fields, the territory collectively
occupied by respective fields of cells encountered in a microelectrode penetration perpendicular to
the cortical surface. Each pair of circles illustrates the movement in aggregate receptive field
accompanying a movement along the cortex of I-2 mm. Both the displacemcnt and the aggregate
field size vary with distance from the fovea (eccentricity), but they do so in parallel fashion. Close to
the fovea the fields are tiny, but so is the displacement accompanying a 1-2 mm movement along
the cortex. The greater the distance from the fovea, the greater the two become. hut they continue
to remain roughly equal (28). ocular dominance shifts back and forth so as to take care of both eyes every
millimeter – a hypercolumn for ocular dominance. Thus, in one or two square
millimeters there seems to exist all the machinery necessary to look after
everything the visual cortex is responsible for, in a certain small part of the
visual world. The machines arc the same everywhere; in some parts the
information on which they do their job is less detailed, hut covers more visual
field (Fig. 15).
Uniformity is surely a huge advantage in development, for genetic specifications need only be laid down for a l-2 mm block of neural tissue, together with
the instruction to make a thousand or so.
We could, incidentally, have called the entire machine a hypercolumn, but
we did not. The term as we define it refers to a complete set of columns of one
type. I mention this because uniformity has obvious advantages, not just for the
cortex but also for terminology. Perhaps one could use “module” to refer to the
There arc two qualifications to all of this. I do not mean to imply that there
need really be 2,000 separate definable entities. It need not matter whether one
begins a set of orientation columns at vertical, horizontal or any one of the 52 Physiology or Medicine 1981 Figure 15. Model of the striate cortex, to show roughly the dimensions of the ocular dominance
slabs (L,R) in relation to the orientation slabs and the cortical thickness. Thinner lines separate
individual columns; thicker lines demarcate the two types of hypercolumn: two pairs of ocular
dominance columns and two sets of orientation columns. The placing of these hypercolumn
boundaries is of course arbitrary; one could as well begin the orientation hypercolumn at horizontal
or any of the obliques. The decision to show the two sets ofcolumns as intersecting at right angles is
also arbitrary, since there is at present no evidence as to the relationship between the two sets.
Finally, for convenience the slabs are shown as plane surfaces, but whereas the dominance columns
arc indeed more or less flat, the orientation columns are not known to be so, and may when
viewed from above have the form of swirls. (Fig. 27 (29)). Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—1978 … obliques; the decision is arbitrary. One requires two dominance columns, a left
and a right, and it makes no difference which one begins with. (In fact, as I will
soon point out, it now looks as though the blocks of tissue may really be
discrete, to a degree that we could not have imagined two years ago.) Second,
there may well be some differences in cortical machinery between the center
and periphery of the visual field. Color vision and stereopsis, for example,
probably decline in importance far out in the visual fields. I say this not to be
obsessively complete but because in the next few years someone will probably
find some difference and pronounce the concept wrong. It may of course be
wrong, but I hope it will be for interesting reasons.
I should perhaps point out that the retina must be nonuniform if it is to do a
more detailed job in the center. To have more area devoted to the center than
to the periphery is not an option open to it, because it is a globe. Were it
anything else the optics would be awkward and the eye could not rotate in its
A few years ago, in a Ferrier Lecture (29), Torsten and I ended by saying
that the striate cortex is probably now (was, then) in broad outline, understood. This was done deliberately: one did not want the well to dry up. When
one wants rain the best strategy is to leave raincoat and umbrella at home. So
the best way to guarantee future employment was to declare the job finished. It
certainly worked. Two years ago Anita Hendrickson and her coworkers and
our laboratory independently discovered that monkey striate cortex, when
sectioned parallel to the surface and through layers II and III and stained for
the enzyme cytochrome oxidase, shows a polka-dot pattern of dark blobs quasiregularly spaced l/2- 1 mm apart (Fig. 16) (30,21). It is as if the animal’s
brain had the measles. The pattern has been seen with several other enzymatic
stains, suggesting that either the activity or the machinery is different in the
blob regions. The pattern has been found in all primates examined, including
man, but not in any nonprimates. In macaque the blobs are clearly lined up
along ocular dominance columns (19). Over the past year Margaret Livingstone and I have shown that the cells in the blobs lack orientation selectivity,
resembling, at least superficially, cells of layer IVc (31). They are selectively
labeled after large injections of radioactive proline into the lateral geniculate
body, so it is clear that their inputs are not identical to the inputs to the rest of
layers II and III. Thus, an entire system has opened up whose existence we were
previously quite unaware of and whose anatomy and functions we do not
yet understand. We are especially anxious to learn what, if any, the relationship is between the cytochrome blobs and the orientation columns.
Things are at an exciting stage. There is no point leaving the umbrella home;
it is raining, and raining hard. 54 Physiology or Medicine 1981 Figure 16. Tangential sections through the visual cortex of the squirrel monkey; cytochrome
oxidase stain. The sections pass through the 17-18 border, which runs obliquely in the figure with
area 17 below and to the right and 18 above and left. (Hubel and Livingstone, unpublished) The
left-hand section passes through layer III, and the blobs can be seen easily in area 17. The righthand section is tangential to layer V where blobs can be again seen, though faintly; these lie in
register with the upper-layer blobs. The coarse pattern in area 18 is now under study and promises
to be interesting. Evolution of Ideas on the Primary Visual Cortex, 1955—1978 … 55 REFERENCES
1. Hubel, D. H., (1958) Cortical unit responses to visual stimuli in nonanesthetized cats. Amer. J.
2. Barlow, H. B., FitzHugh, R. and Kuffler, S. W., (1957) Dark adaptation, absolute threshold
and Purkinje shift in single units of the cat’s retina. J. Physiol. 137: 327-337.
3. Talbot, S. A. and Kuffler, S. W., (1952) A multibeam ophthalmoscope for the study of retinal
physiology. J. Opt. Soc. Am. 42:931-936.
4. Talbot, S. A. and Marshall, W. H., (1941) Physiological studies on neural mechanisms of
visual localization and discrimination. Am. J. Ophthal. 24:1255-1263.
5. Mountcastle, V. B., (1957) Modality and topographic properties of single neurons of cat’s
somatic sensory cortex. J. Neurophysiol. 20:408-434.
6. Davies, P. W., (1956) Chamber for microelectrode studies in the cerebral cortex. Science 124:
7. Sperry, R. W., Miner, N., and Meyers, R. E., (1955) Visual pattern perception following
subpial slicing and tantalum wire implantations in the visual cortex. J. Comp. Physiol. Psych.
8. Sperry, R. W. and Miner. N., (1955) Pattern perception following insertion of mica plates into
visual cortex. J. Comp. Physiol. Psych. 48:463-469.
9. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel. T. N., (1959) Respective field organization of single units in the
striate cortex of cat. XXI Int. Congr. Physiol. Sci.. Buenos Aires, p.131.
IO. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel. T. N., (1959) Receptive fields of single neurones in the cat’s striate
cortex. J. Physiol. 148:574-591.
II. Cleland. B. G., Dubin, M. W., and Levick. W. R., (1971) Simultaneous recording of input and
output oflateral geniculate neurones. Nature New Biol. 231:191-192.
12. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel, T. N., (1962) Receptive fields. binocular interaction and functional
architecture in the cat’s visual cortex. J. Physiol. 160:106-154.
13. Barlow. H. B. and Levick. W. R., (1965) The mechanism of directionally selective units in
rabbit’s retina. J. Physiol. 178:477-504.
14. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel T. N., (1965) Receptivc fields and functional architecture in two
non-striate visual areas (18 and 19) of the cat. J. Neurophysiol. 28:229-289.
15. Dreher, B. (1972) Hypercomplex cells in the cat’s striate cortex. Invest. Ophth. II:355-356.
16. Gilbert, C. D. (1977) Laminar differences in receptive field properties of cells in cat visual
cortex. J. Physiol. 268:391-421.
17. Toyama, K., Matsunami, K., and Ohno, T., (1969) Antidromic identification of association,
commissural and corticofugal efferent cells in cat visual cortex. Brain Res. 14:513-517.
18. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel, T. N., (1963) Shape and arrangement of columns in cat’s striate
cortex. J. Physiol. 165:559-568.
19. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel. T. N., (1974) S e q uence regularity and geometry of orientation
columns in the monkey striate cortex. J. Comp. Neur. 158:267-294.
20. Sokoloff, L., Reivich, M., Kennedy, C., DesRosiers, M. H., Patlak. C. S., Pettigrew, K. D.,
Sakurada, O. and Shinohara, M., (1977) The [ 1 4 C] deoxyglucose method for the measurement of local cerebral glucose utilization: theory, procedure, and normal values in the conscious and anesthetized albino rat. J. Neurochem. 28:897-916.
21. Horton, J. C. and Hubel. D H., (1981) Regular patchy distribution of cytochrome oxidase
staining in primary visual cortex of macaque monkey. Nature 292:762-764.
22. Humphrey, A. L., Skeen. L. G., and Norton, T. T., (1980) Topographic organization of the
orientation column system in the striate cortex of the tree shrew (Tupaia glis). II. Deoxyglucose
mapping. J. Comp. Neur. 192:549-566.
23. Hubel. D. H. and Wiesel, T. N., (1972) Laminar and columnar distribution of geniculocortical libers in the macaque monkey. J. Comp. Neur. 146:421-450.
24. Grafstein, B. (1971) Transneuronal transfer of radioactivity in the central nervous system.
Science 172:177-179. 56 Physiology or Medicine 1981 25. Wiesel, T. N., Hubel, D. H., and Lam, D. M. K., (1974) Autoradiographic demonstration of
ocular-dominance columns in the monkey striate cortex by means of transneuronal transport.
Brain Res. 79:273-279.
26. Lorente de Nó, R. (1949) Cerebral cortex: architecture, intracortical connections, motor
projections. Chapt. 15 in Fulton. J. F.: P hysiology of the Nervous System. 3 rd edition, Oxford
University Press, New York and London.
27. Daniel, P. M. and Whitteridge, D., (1961) The representation of the visual field on the cerebral
cortex in monkeys. J. Physiol., Lond. 159:203-221.
Uniformity of monkey striate cortex: a parallel
28. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel, T. N., (1974)
relationship between field size, scatter, and magnification factor. J. Comp. Neur. 158:295306.
29. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel, T. N., (1977) Ferrier Lecture. Functional architecture of macaque
monkey visual cortex. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 198:1-59.
30. Hendrickson, A. E., Hunt, S. P., and Wu, J.-Y., (1981) I mmunocytochemical localization of glutamic acid decarboxylase in monkey striate cortex. Nature 292:605-607.
31. Hubel, D. H. and Livingstone, M. S., (1981) Regions of poor orientation tuning coincide with
patches of cytochrome oxidase staining in monkey striate cortex. Neurosci. Abst. 1lth Ann.
Meeting, Los Angeles, 118.12.
32. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel, T. N., (1968) Receptive fields and functional architecture of monkey
striate cortex. J. Physiol. 195:215-243.
33. LeVay, S., Hubel, D. H., and Wiesel, T. N., (1975) The pattern of ocular dominance columns
in macaque visual cortex revealed by a reduced silver stain. J. Comp. Neur. 159:559-576. ...
View Full Document