Optical Imaging of Retinotopic Maps in a Small Songbird, the Zebra Finch


The primary visual cortex of mammals is characterised by a retinotopic representation of the visual field. It has therefore been speculated that the visual wulst, the avian homologue of the visual cortex, also contains such a retinotopic map. We examined this for the first time by optical imaging of intrinsic signals in zebra finches, a small songbird with laterally placed eyes. In addition to the visual wulst, we visualised the retinotopic map of the optic tectum which is homologue to the superior colliculus in mammals.For the optic tectum, our results confirmed previous accounts of topography based on anatomical studies and conventional electrophysiology. Within the visual wulst, the retinotopy revealed by our experiments has not been illustrated convincingly before. The frontal part of the visual field (0°±30° azimuth) was not represented in the retinotopic map. The visual field from 30°–60° azimuth showed stronger magnification compared with more lateral regions. Only stimuli within elevations between about 20° and 40° above the horizon elicited neuronal activation. Activation from other elevations was masked by activation of the preferred region. Most interestingly, we observed more than one retinotopic representation of visual space within the visual wulst, which indicates that the avian wulst, like the visual cortex in mammals, may show some compartmentation parallel to the surface in addition to its layered structure.Our results show the applicability of the optical imaging method also for small songbirds. We obtained a more detailed picture of retinotopic maps in birds, especially on the functional neuronal organisation of the visual wulst. Our findings support the notion of homology of visual wulst and visual cortex by showing that there is a functional correspondence between the two areas but also raise questions based on considerable differences between avian and mammalian retinotopic representations

Similar works

Full text


Public Library of Science (PLOS)

Provided original full text link
Last time updated on 6/5/2019

This paper was published in Public Library of Science (PLOS).

Having an issue?

Is data on this page outdated, violates copyrights or anything else? Report the problem now and we will take corresponding actions after reviewing your request.