Retinotopic Maps, Spatial Tuning, and Locations of Human Visual Areas in Surface Coordinates Characterized with Multifocal and Blocked fMRI Designs

Linda Henriksson, Juha Karvonen, Niina Salminen-Vaparanta, Henry Railo, Simo Vanni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
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The localization of visual areas in the human cortex is typically based on mapping the retinotopic organization with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The most common approach is to encode the response phase for a slowly moving visual stimulus and to present the result on an individual's reconstructed cortical surface. The main aims of this study were to develop complementary general linear model (GLM)-based retinotopic mapping methods and to characterize the inter-individual variability of the visual area positions on the cortical surface. We studied 15 subjects with two methods: a 24-region multifocal checkerboard stimulus and a blocked presentation of object stimuli at different visual field locations. The retinotopic maps were based on weighted averaging of the GLM parameter estimates for the stimulus regions. In addition to localizing visual areas, both methods could be used to localize multiple retinotopic regions-of-interest. The two methods yielded consistent retinotopic maps in the visual areas V1, V2, V3, hV4, and V3AB. In the higher-level areas IPS0, VO1, LO1, LO2, TO1, and TO2, retinotopy could only be mapped with the blocked stimulus presentation. The gradual widening of spatial tuning and an increase in the responses to stimuli in the ipsilateral visual field along the hierarchy of visual areas likely reflected the increase in the average receptive field size. Finally, after registration to Freesurfer's surface-based atlas of the human cerebral cortex, we calculated the mean and variability of the visual area positions in the spherical surface-based coordinate system and generated probability maps of the visual areas on the average cortical surface. The inter-individual variability in the area locations decreased when the midpoints were calculated along the spherical cortical surface compared with volumetric coordinates. These results can facilitate both analysis of individual functional anatomy and comparisons of visual cortex topology across studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36859
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • location of human visual areas
  • retinotopics maps
  • spatial tunning
  • surface coordinates


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