Cytochrome-oxidase blobs in cat primary visual cortex
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Cytochrome-oxidase blobs are central to two of the most influential ideas in contemporary visual neuroscience--cortical modularity and parallel processing pathways. In particular, the regular 2D array of cytochrome-oxidase-rich blobs in primate visual cortex is arguably the most compelling evidence for cortical modularity and has been hypothesized to mark a separate processing stream through the visual cortex. Although previously a variety of mammals have been studied, blobs have only been demonstrated in the visual cortex of primates, which has led to the conclusion that blobs represent a primate-specific feature of visual cortical organization. Here we demonstrate the presence of cytochrome-oxidase blobs in a nonprimate species. Throughout the full tangential extent of layers II-III in cat visual cortex the cytochrome-oxidase staining pattern is distinctly patchy, with the darkly stained blobs forming a regular 2D array. In addition, the blobs in cat visual cortex are functionally related to the underlying ocular dominance columns. The presence of cytochrome-oxidase blobs in the cat clearly demonstrates that they no longer can be considered a primate-specific feature of visual cortical organization.
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