"Functional ultrasound imaging reveals 3D structure of orientation domains in ferret primary visual cortex"

January 24, 2023

Congratulations to Professor Doyley and PhD candidate Wentao Hu on the publication of the journal article titled "Functional ultrasound imaging reveals 3D structure of orientation domains in ferret primary visual cortex." Co-authors from the URMC Department of Neuroscience are Dr. Farran Briggs and Silei Zhu

This article appears in NeuroImage. The abstract appears below and more information can be found here.

Abstract: Background and purpose: The sensory cortex is organized into “maps” that represent sensory space across cortical space. In primary visual cortex (V1) of highly visual mammals, multiple visual feature maps are organized into a functional architecture anchored by orientation domains: regions containing neurons preferring the same stimulus orientation. Although the pinwheel-like structure of orientation domains is well-characterized in the superficial cortical layers in dorsal regions of V1, the 3D shape of orientation domains spanning all 6 cortical layers and across dorsal and ventral regions of V1 has never been revealed. Methods: We utilized an emerging research method in neuroscience, functional ultrasound imaging (fUS), to resolve the 3D structure of orientation domains throughout V1 in anesthetized female ferrets. fUS measures blood flow from which neuronal population activity is inferred with improved spatial resolution over fMRI. Results: fUS activations in response to drifting gratings placed at multiple locations in visual space generated unique activation patterns in V1 and visual thalamus, confirming prior observations that fUS can resolve retinotopy. Iso-orientation domains, determined from clusters of activations driven by large oriented gratings, were cone-shaped and present in both dorsal and ventral regions of V1. The spacing between iso-orientation domains was consistent with spacing measured previously using optical imaging methods. Conclusions: Orientation domains are cones rather than columns. Their width and intra-domain distances may vary across dorsal and ventral regions of V1. These findings demonstrate the power of fUS at revealing 3D functional architecture in cortical regions not accessible to traditional surface imaging methods.