- The significance of functional maps for cortical plasticity was investigated by imaging of intrinsic optical signals together with single-unit recording in kittens. After even a brief period of monocular deprivation during the height of the critical period, only isolated patches of visual cortex continued to respond strongly to the closed eye. These deprived-eye patches were located on the pinwheel center singularities of the orientation map and consisted of neurons that were poorly selective for stimulus orientation. Neurons in regions surrounding the deprived-eye patches responded only weakly to the deprived eye but were well tuned for the same stimulus orientation that optimally excited them when presented to the open, nondeprived eye. The coincidence of deprived-eye patches with pinwheel center singularities, and the selective loss of orientation tuning within the deprived-eye patches, indicate that the orientation and ocular dominance maps are functionally linked and provide compelling evidence that pinwheel center singularities are important for cortical plasticity.