Vision develops rapidly during infancy, yet how visual cortex is organized during this period is unclear. One possibility is that the retinotopic organization of visual cortex emerges gradually as perceptual abilities improve. This may result in a hierarchical maturation of visual areas from striate to extrastriate cortex. Another possibility is that retinotopic organization is present from early infancy. This early maturation of area boundaries and tuning could scaffold further developmental changes. Here we test the functional maturity of infant visual cortex by performing retinotopic mapping with fMRI. Infants aged 5-23 months had retinotopic maps, with alternating preferences for vertical and horizontal meridians indicative of area boundaries from V1 to V4, and an orthogonal gradient of preferences from high to low spatial frequencies indicative of growing receptive field sizes. Although present in the youngest infants, these retinotopic maps showed subtle age-related changes, suggesting that early maturation undergoes continued refinement.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience