Potential of visual cortex to develop an array of functional units unique to somatosensory cortex

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Science  14 Jun 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5012, pp. 1556-1560
DOI: 10.1126/science.2047863


The identification of specialized areas in the mammalian neocortex, such as the primary visual or somatosensory cortex, is based on distinctions in architectural and functional features. The extent to which certain features that distinguish neocortical areas in rats are prespecified or emerge as a result of epigenetic interactions was investigated. Late embryonic visual cortex transplanted to neonatal somatosensory cortex was later assayed for "barrels," anatomically identified functional units unique to somatosensory cortex, and for boundaries of glycoconjugated molecules associated with barrels. Barrels and boundaries form in transplanted visual cortex and are organized in an array that resembles the pattern in the normal barrelfield. These findings show that different regions of the developing neocortex have similar potentials to differentiate features that distinguish neocortical areas and contribute to their unique functional organizations.