Research Article

Shadows Cast by Retinal Blood Vessels Mapped in Primary Visual Cortex

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Science  18 Oct 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5593, pp. 572-576
DOI: 10.1126/science.1074887

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The mammalian eye is a remarkable optical device, but its design is not perfect. The blood vessels that supply the inner retina are located in front of the photoreceptor layer, blocking access to light. Their shadows create a pattern of blindness in the field of vision that corresponds precisely to the location of the largest vessels in the eye. We show here that in squirrel monkeys, focal deprivation by blood vessels leads to rewiring of the eye's geniculocortical projections, imprinting an image of the retinal vascular tree onto the primary visual cortex. This process illustrates vividly that local imbalances in neuronal activity can influence column formation during normal development.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed at Beckman Vision Center, University of California, San Francisco, 10 Kirkham Street, San Francisco, CA 94143–0730, USA. E-mail: dadams{at}

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