A principle for the formation of the spatial structure of cortical feature maps

K. Obermayer, H. Ritter, K. Schulten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Orientation-selective cells in the striate cortex of higher animals are organized as a hierarchical topographic map of two stimulus features: (i) position in visual space and (ii) orientation. We show that the observed structure of the topographic map can arise from a principle of continuous mapping. For the realization of this principle we use a mathematical model that can be interpreted as an adaptive process changing a set of synaptic weights, or synaptic connection strengths, between two layers of cells. The patterns of orientation preference and selectivity generated by the model are similar to the patterns seen in the visual cortex of macaque monkey and cat and correspond to a neural projection that maps a more than two-dimensional feature space onto a two-dimensional cortical surface under the constraint that shape and position of the receptive fields of the neurons vary smoothly over the cortical surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8345-8349
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1990


  • Adaptive map
  • Neural network
  • Orientation columns
  • Self-organization
  • Striate cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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