Remapping of Border Ownership in the Visual Cortex

Krieger Mind/Brain Institute and Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.34). 01/2013; 33(5):1964-74. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2797-12.2013
Source: PubMed


We see objects as having continuity although the retinal image changes frequently. How such continuity is achieved is hard to understand, because neurons in the visual cortex have small receptive fields that are fixed on the retina, which means that a different set of neurons is activated every time the eyes move. Neurons in areas V1 and V2 of the visual cortex signal the local features that are currently in their receptive fields and do not show "remapping" when the image moves. However, subsets of neurons in these areas also carry information about global aspects, such as figure-ground organization. Here we performed experiments to find out whether figure-ground organization is remapped. We recorded single neurons in macaque V1 and V2 in which figure-ground organization is represented by assignment of contours to regions (border ownership). We found previously that border-ownership signals persist when a figure edge is switched to an ambiguous edge by removing the context. We now used this paradigm to see whether border ownership transfers when the ambiguous edge is moved across the retina. In the new position, the edge activated a different set of neurons at a different location in cortex. We found that border ownership was transferred to the newly activated neurons. The transfer occurred whether the edge was moved by a saccade or by moving the visual display. Thus, although the contours are coded in retinal coordinates, their assignment to objects is maintained across movements of the retinal image.

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