Stereoscopic vision delivers a sense of depth based on binocular information but additionally acts as a mechanism for achieving correspondence between patterns arriving at the left and right eyes. We analyse quantitatively the cortical architecture for stereoscopic vision in two areas of macaque visual cortex. For primary visual cortex V1, the result is consistent with a module that is isotropic in cortical space with a diameter of at least 3 mm in surface extent. This implies that the module for stereo is larger than the repeat distance between ocular dominance columns in V1. By contrast, in the extrastriate cortical area V5/MT, which has a specialized architecture for stereo depth, the module for representation of stereo is about 1 mm in surface extent, so the representation of stereo in V5/MT is more compressed than V1 in terms of neural wiring of the neocortex. The surface extent estimated for stereo in V5/MT is consistent with measurements of its specialized domains for binocular disparity. Within V1, we suggest that long-range horizontal, anatomical connections form functional modules that serve both binocular and monocular pattern recognition: this common function may explain the distortion and disruption of monocular pattern vision observed in amblyopia.This article is part of the themed issue 'Vision in our three-dimensional world'.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
binocular vision, cortical columns, pattern recognition, Animals, Depth Perception, Macaca, Visual Pathways