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Sunday, July 19 • 9:00pm - 10:00pm
P170: Optically imaged map of orientation preferences in visual cortex of an Australian marsupial, the Tammar Wallaby Macropus eugenii.

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VIRTUAL ZOOM MEETING: https://unimelb.zoom.us/s/94928398820?pwd=N1VzcFpoQ1MzamtRUi9aRmF4aEczUT09#success   Password: 011798
Please email me if you have difficulty entering during the time slot at jungy@student.unimelb.edu.au

Young Jun Jung
, Ali Almasi, Shi Sun, Shaun Cloherty, Hamish Meffin, Michael Ibbotson, Molis Yunzab, Sebastien Bauquier, Marilyn Renfree

Orientation selectivity (OS) is a key feature of neurons in the mammalian primary visual cortex. In rodents and rabbits, these neurons are randomly distributed across V1 while in cats and all primates, cells with similar OS preferences cluster together into cortical columns. Could it be that mammals with smaller primary visual cortices, relatively undifferentiated cortices or poor-resolution vision are restricted to having salt-and-pepper OS maps? This is not true, because in gray squirrel, a highly visual rodent with good spatial resolution, and a V1 that is highly differentiated, no clear functional organisation of OS preferences exists in V1. We do not know yet why the maps coding OS preferences are so radically different in rodents/rabbits compared to the clear similarities across other mammalian visual systems.

Several models of cortical OS maps have been created incorporating Hebbian plasticity, intracortical interactions and the properties of growing axons. But these models mainly focus on maps arising from intracortical interactions. Here we focus on two factors contributing to map formation: the topography of retina and phylogeny. One promising method of predicting whether or not a species has pinwheel maps is to look at the central-to-peripheral ratio (CP ratio) of retinal cell density. We have found that animals with high CP ratios (>7) have orientation columns while those with low CP ratios (<4) have random OS maps. 

 We studied a highly visual marsupial, the Tammar wallaby (Macropus Eugenii), which represents a phylogenetically distinct branch of mammals for which the orientation map structure is unknown. The topography of RCC’s in wallabies is very similar to cats and primates. They have a high density of RGC in the retinal specialization, indicated by a high CP ratio of 20. If orientation columns are the mammalian norm and if species with high CP ratios have OS maps, we would predict the existence of orientation columns in wallaby cortex. We used intrinsic optical imaging and multi-channel electrophysiology methods to examine the functional organization of the wallaby cortex. We found robust OS in a high proportion of cells in the primary visual cortex and clear orientation columns similar to those found in primates and cats but with bias towards vertical and horizontal preferences, suggesting lifestyle-driven variations. The findings suggest that orientation columns are the norm and it might be that the rodents and rabbits are unusual in terms of mammalian cortical architecture.

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Young Jun Jung

Graduate Researcher, National Vision Research Institute
Young Jun (Jason) Jung completed his Bachelor of Science degree with Honours majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne in 2017. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the National Vision Research Institute (NVRI) and Optometry and Vision Sciences Department of Melbourne... Read More →

Sunday July 19, 2020 9:00pm - 10:00pm CEST
Slot 05