Royal Society Publishing

Functional measurements of human ventral occipital cortex: retinotopy and colour

Alex R. Wade, Alyssa A. Brewer, Jochem W. Rieger, Brian A. Wandell


Human colour vision originates in the cone photoreceptors, whose spatial density peaks in the fovea and declines rapidly into the periphery. For this reason, one expects to find a large representation of the cone–rich fovea in those cortical locations that support colour perception. Human occipital cortex contains several distinct foveal representations including at least two that extend onto the ventral surface: a region thought to be critical for colour vision. To learn more about these ventral signals, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify visual field maps and colour responsivity on the ventral surface. We found a visual map of the complete contralateral hemifield in a 4 cm2 region adjacent to ventral V3; the foveal representation of this map is confluent with that of areas V1/2/3. Additionally, a distinct foveal representation is present on the ventral surface situated 3–5 cm anterior from the confluent V1/2/3 foveal representations. This organization is not consistent with the definition of area V8, which assumes the presence of a quarter field representation adjacent to V3v. Comparisons of responses to luminance–matched coloured and achromatic patterns show increased activity to the coloured stimuli beginning in area V1 and extending through the new hemifield representation and further anterior in the ventral occipital lobe.