Natural scene statistics and the structure of orientation maps in the visual cortex

Jonathan J. Hunt, Clare E. Giacomantonio, Huajin Tang, Duncan Mortimer, Sajjida Jaffer, Vasily Vorobyov, Geoffery Ericksson, Frank Sengpiel, Geoffrey J. Goodhill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Visual activity after eye-opening influences feature map structure in primary visual cortex (V1). For instance, rearing cats in an environment of stripes of one orientation yields an over-representation of that orientation in V1. However, whether such changes also affect the higher-order statistics of orientation maps is unknown. A statistical bias of orientation maps in normally raised animals is that the probability of the angular difference in orientation preference between each pair of points in the cortex depends on the angle of the line joining those points relative to a fixed but arbitrary set of axes. Natural images show an analogous statistical bias; however, whether this drives the development of comparable structure in V1 is unknown. We examined these statistics for normal, stripe-reared and dark-reared cats, and found that the biases present were not consistently related to those present in the input, or to genetic relationships. We compared these results with two computational models of orientation map development, an analytical model and a Hebbian model. The analytical model failed to reproduce the experimentally observed statistics. In the Hebbian model, while orientation difference statistics could be strongly driven by the input, statistics similar to those seen in experimental maps arose only when symmetry breaking was allowed to occur spontaneously. These results suggest that these statistical biases of orientation maps arise primarily spontaneously, rather than being governed by either input statistics or genetic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-172
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009


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