To examine the functional interactions between the color and form pathways in the primate visual cortex, we have examined the functional connectivity between pairs of color oriented and nonoriented V1 and V2 neurons in Macaque monkeys. Optical imaging maps for color selectivity, orientation preference, and ocular dominance were used to identify specific functional compartments within V1 and V2 (blobs and thin stripes). These sites then were targeted with multiple electrodes, single neurons isolated, and their receptive fields characterized for orientation selectivity and color selectivity. Functional interactions between pairs of V1 and V2 neurons were inferred by cross-correlation analysis of spike firing. Three types of color interactions were studied: nonoriented V1/nonoriented V2 cell pairs, nonoriented V1/oriented V2 cell pairs, and oriented V1/nonoriented V2 cell pairs. In general, interactions between V1 and V2 neurons are highly dependent on color matching. Different cell pairs exhibited differing dependencies on spatial overlap. Interactions between nonoriented color cells in V1 and V2 are dependent on color matching but not on receptive field overlap, suggesting a role for these interactions in coding of color surfaces. In contrast, interactions between nonoriented V1 and oriented V2 color cells exhibit a strong dependency on receptive field overlap, suggesting a separate pathway for processing of color contour information. Yet another pattern of connectivity was observed between oriented V1 and nonoriented V2 cells; these cells exhibited interactions only when receptive fields were far apart and failed to interact when spatially overlapped. Such interactions may underlie the induction of color and brightness percepts from border contrasts. Our findings thus suggest the presence of separate color pathways between V1 and V2, each with differing patterns of convergence and divergence and distinct roles in color and form vision.
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