Neuromagnetic investigations of functional organisation within human visual cortex

  • Fiona C. Fylan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis describes a series of experimental investigations into the functional organisation of human visual cortex using neuromagnetometry.This technique
combines good spatial and temporal resolution enabling identification of the location and temporal response characteristics of cortical neurones within alert humans. To activate different neuronal populations and cortical areas a range of stimuli were used, the parameters of which were selected to match the known physiological properties of primate cortical neurones. In one series of experiments the evoked magnetic response was recorded to isoluminant red/green gratings. Co-registration of signal and magnetic resonance image data indicated a contribution to the response from visual areas V1, V2 and V4. To investigate the spatio-temporal characteristics of neurones within area V1 the evoked response was recorded for a range of stimulus spatial and temporal frequencies. The response to isoluminant red/green gratings was dominated by a major component which was found to have bandpass spatial frequency tuning with a peak at 1-2 cycles/degree, falling to the level of the noise at 6-8 cycles/degree. The temporal frequency tuning characteristics of the response showed bimodal sensitivity with peaks at 0-1Hz and 4Hz. In a further series of experiments the luminance evoked response was recorded to red/black, yellow/black and achromatic gratings and in all cases was found to be more complex than the isoluminant chromatic response, comprising up to three distinct components. The major response peak showed bandpass spatial frequency tuning characteristics, peaking at 6-8 cycles/degree, falling to the level of the noise at 12-16 cycles/degree. The results provide evidence to suggest that within area V1 the same neuronal population encodes both chromatic and luminance information and has spatial frequency tuning properties consistent with single-opponent cells. Furthermore, the results indicate that cells within area V1 encode chromatic motion information over a wide range of temporal frequencies with temporal response characteristics suggestive of the existence of a sub-population of cells sensitive to high temporal frequencies.
Date of AwardSept 1995
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGraham F.A. Harding (Supervisor)


  • neuromagnetometry
  • chromatic visual evoked response
  • spatio-temporal
  • V1
  • V4

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