[visionlist] What can retinotopy tell us about how the brain allows us to see?

Marcello Rosa marcello.rosa at monash.edu
Tue Sep 26 23:04:51 -04 2023

Hello Jorge

I am convinced that retinotopy has a “function”, in the sense that it provides a a solution for wire-length minimisation which is implementable with relatively straightforward developmental rules. 

I do not believe however that different types of retinotopic map have different functions, as it was thought some time ago. Strange maps can emerge which are perfectly fine (in the sense that they survive natural selection) but they always seem to obey wire length minimisation rules - both within and across areas.

A twisted visual field map in the primate dorsomedial cortex predicted by topographic continuity.
Yu HH, Rowley DP, Price NSC, Rosa MGP, Zavitz E.
Sci Adv. 2020 Oct 28;6(44):eaaz8673. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz8673. Print 2020 Oct.

A sinusoidal transformation of the visual field is the basis for periodic maps in area V2.
Sedigh-Sarvestani M, Lee KS, Jaepel J, Satterfield R, Shultz N, Fitzpatrick D.
Neuron. 2021 Dec 15;109(24):4068-4079.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.09.053. Epub 2021 Oct 22.

> On 26 Sep 2023, at 11:58 pm, Jorge Almeida <jorgecbalmeida at gmail.com> wrote:
> Just some context that I should have given (sorry!!!). This comes from 1) the beautiful discussions on the functional role of retinotopy for instance between people like Jon Kaas and others (e.g., "Kaas, J (1997). Topographic maps are fundamental to sensory processing. Brain Research Bulletin, 44(2), 107-112. vs. Weinberg, R. (1997). Are topographic maps fundamental to sensory processing?  Brain Research Bulletin, 44(2), 113-116.); and 2) trying to understand how, in general, topographic maps such as retinotopy can be important functionally (and not just neurally) and can guide our understanding of how the mind works (at different levels of abstraction). Thank you all so much!
> jorge almeida
> On Mon, Sep 25, 2023 at 11:51 PM Jorge Almeida <jorgecbalmeida at gmail.com <mailto:jorgecbalmeida at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Dear all,
> I was wondering if some of you can point me to a set of papers (or just send out some ideas) on whether and how the fact that we show that visual cortex is organized in a retinotipic map (or tonotopy in auditory cortex) is important in understanding how vision works/the brain allows for visual processes.
> That is, is there a function for retinotopy as it comes to vision? How does showing retinotopic maps tell us anything about how vision works (mostly we focus on things like reducing connections and thus saving energy)? How does it impact visual processing? What have we learnt about visual cognition from retinotopy? Perhaps even, are there visual effects that are a consequence of retinotopy?
> Sorry if the formulation of the question is not super clear and thanks in advance!
> Jorge Almeida
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