The development of retinotectal maps: A review of models based on molecular gradients

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Information about the world is often represented in the brain in the form of topographic maps. A paradigm example is the topographic representation of the visual world in the optic tectum/superior colliculus. This map initially forms during neural development using activity-independent molecular cues, most notably some type of chemospecific matching between molecular gradients in the retina and corresponding gradients in the tectum/superior colliculus. Exactly how this process might work has been studied both experimentally and theoretically for several decades. This review discusses the experimental data briefly, and then in more detail the theoretical models proposed. The principal conclusions are that (1) theoretical models have helped clarify several important ideas in the field, (2) earlier models were often more sophisticated than more recent models, and (3) substantial revisions to current modelling approaches are probably required to account for more than isolated subsets of the experimental data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-34
Number of pages30
JournalNetwork: Computation in Neural Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2005


  • Axon guidance
  • Computational model
  • Eph receptors
  • Ephrins
  • Topographic maps


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