Columnar processing of border ownership in primate visual cortex

Tom P. Franken, John H. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


To understand a visual scene, the brain segregates figures from background by assigning borders to foreground objects. Neurons in primate visual cortex encode which object owns a border (border ownership), but the underlying circuitry is not understood. Here, we used multielectrode probes to record from border ownership-selective units in different layers in macaque visual area V4 to study the laminar organization and timing of border ownership selectivity. We find that border ownership selectivity occurs first in deep layer units, in contrast to spike latency for small stimuli in the classical receptive field. Units on the same penetration typically share the preferred side of border ownership, also across layers, similar to orientation preference. Units are often border ownership-selective for a range of border orientations, where the preferred sides of border ownership are systematically organized in visual space. Together our data reveal a columnar organization of border ownership in V4 where the earliest border ownership signals are not simply inherited from upstream areas, but computed by neurons in deep layers, and may thus be part of signals fed back to upstream cortical areas or the oculomotor system early after stimulus onset. The finding that preferred border ownership is clustered and can cover a wide range of spatially contiguous locations suggests that the asymmetric context integrated by these neurons is provided in a systematically clustered manner, possibly through corticocortical feedback and horizontal connections.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere72573
StatePublished - Nov 2021


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