The mammalian visual cortex harbors a number of functional maps that represent distinct attributes of stimuli in the visual environment. How different functional maps are accommodated within the same cortical space, especially in species that show marked irregularities in one or more functional maps, remains poorly understood. We used optical imaging of intrinsic signals and electrophysiological techniques to investigate the organization of the maps of orientation preference, ocular dominance, and visual space in ferret. This species shows striking nonuniformity in the arrangement of ocular dominance domains and disruption of the mapping of visual space along the V1/V2 border. We asked whether these irregularities would be reflected in the organization of the map of orientation preference. The results show that orientation preference is mapped consistently within both V1 and V2, and across the interareal boundary, with no reflection of the irregularities in the other maps. These observations demonstrate the accommodation of multiple functional maps within the same cortical space without systematic geometrical relationships that necessarily constrain the organization of each representation. Furthermore, they imply that the structure of the map of orientation preference reflects the architecture and activity patterns of cortical circuits that are independent of other columnar systems established in layer 4.
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