Complete pattern of ocular dominance columns in human primary visual cortex.
The occipital lobes were obtained after death from six adult subjects with monocular visual loss. Flat-mounts were processed for cytochrome oxidase (CO) to reveal metabolic activity in the primary (V1) and secondary (V2) visual cortices. Mean V1 surface area was 2643 mm2 (range, 1986-3477 mm2). Ocular dominance columns were present in all cases, having a mean width of 863 microm. There were 78-126 column pairs along the V1 perimeter. Human column patterns were highly variable, but in at least one person they resembled a scaled-up version of macaque columns. CO patches in the upper layers were centered on ocular dominance columns in layer 4C, with one exception. In this individual, the columns in a local area resembled those present in the squirrel monkey, and no evidence was found for column/patch alignment. In every subject, the blind spot of the contralateral eye was conspicuous as an oval region without ocular dominance columns. It provided a precise landmark for delineating the central 15 degrees of the visual field. A mean of 53.1% of striate cortex was devoted to the representation of the central 15 degrees. This fraction was less than the proportion of striate cortex allocated to the representation of the central 15 degrees in the macaque. Within the central 15 degrees, each eye occupied an equal territory. Beyond this eccentricity, the contralateral eye predominated, occupying 63% of the cortex. In one subject, monocular visual loss began at age 4 months, causing shrinkage of ocular dominance columns. In V2, which had a larger surface area than V1, CO stripes were present but could not be classified as thick or thin.