In the mammalian visual system, early stages of visual form processing begin with orientation-selective neurons in primary visual cortex (V1). In many species (including humans, monkeys, tree shrews, cats, and ferrets), these neurons are organized in a beautifully arrayed pinwheel-like orientation columns, which shift in orientation preference across V1. However, to date, the relationship of orientation architecture to the encoding of multiple elemental aspects of visual contours is still unknown. Here, using a novel, highly accurate method of targeting electrode position, we report for the first time the presence of three subdomains within single orientation domains. We suggest that these zones subserve computation of distinct aspects of visual contours and propose a novel tripartite pinwheel-centered view of an orientation hypercolumn.
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