In the adult visual cortex, multiple feature maps exist and have characteristic spatial relationships with one another. The relationships can be reproduced by "dimension-reduction" computational models, suggesting that the principles of continuity and coverage may underlie cortical map organization. However, the mechanisms responsible for establishing these relationships are unknown. We explored whether removing one feature map during development causes a coordinated reorganization of the remaining maps or whether the remaining maps are unaffected. We removed the ocular dominance map by monocular enucleation in newborn ferrets, so that single eye stimulation drove the cortex in a more spatially uniform manner in adult monocular animals compared with normal animals. Maps of orientation, spatial frequency, and retinotopy formed in monocular ferrets, but their structures and spatial relationships differed from those in normal ferrets. The wavelength of the orientation map increased, so that the average orientation gradient across the cortex decreased. The decrease in the orientation gradient in monocular animals was most prominent in the high gradient regions of the spatial frequency map, indicating a coordinated reorganization between these two maps. In monocular animals, the orthogonal relationship between the orientation and spatial frequency maps was preserved, and the orthogonal relationship between the orientation and retinotopic maps became more pronounced. These results were consistent with detailed predictions of a dimension-reduction model of cortical organization. Thus, the number of feature maps in a cortical area influences the relationships between them, and inputs to the cortex have a significant role in generating these relationships.
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