Imaging retinotopic maps in the human brain

Brian A. Wandell, Jonathan Winawer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A quarter-century ago visual neuroscientists had little information about the number and organization of retinotopic maps in human visual cortex. The advent of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a non-invasive, spatially-resolved technique for measuring brain activity, provided a wealth of data about human retinotopic maps. Just as there are differences amongst non-human primate maps, the human maps have their own unique properties. Many human maps can be measured reliably in individual subjects during experimental sessions lasting less than an hour. The efficiency of the measurements and the relatively large amplitude of functional MRI signals in visual cortex make it possible to develop quantitative models of functional responses within specific maps in individual subjects. During this last quarter-century, there has also been significant progress in measuring properties of the human brain at a range of length and time scales, including white matter pathways, macroscopic properties of gray and white matter, and cellular and molecular tissue properties. We hope the next 25. years will see a great deal of work that aims to integrate these data by modeling the network of visual signals. We do not know what such theories will look like, but the characterization of human retinotopic maps from the last 25. years is likely to be an important part of future ideas about visual computations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)718-737
Number of pages20
JournalVision research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 13 2011


  • Functional specialization
  • Human visual cortex
  • Optic radiation
  • Retinotopy
  • Visual field map clusters
  • Visual field maps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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