The mechanisms underlying the formation of topographic maps in the retinotectal system have long been debated. Recently, members of the Eph and ephrin receptor-ligand family have been found to provide a molecular substrate for one type of mechanism, that of chemospecific gradient matching, as proposed by Sperry. However, experiments over several decades have demonstrated that there is more to map formation than gradient matching. This article briefly reviews the old and new findings, argues that these two types of data must be properly integrated in order to understand map formation fully, and suggests some experimental and theoretical ways to begin this process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-534
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999


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