The retinotopic, area-based connectivity patterns of the columnar receptive fields in the visual cortex are well-established.

Do any mappings of the columnar receptive field connectivity patterns exist for associative brain regions?


Short answer
Associative brain areas are not retinotopically organized. Only lower visual areas more upstream from these areas are organized in such a predictable, low-level way. Higher up, things get complicated and unpredictable.

Visual receptive fields and retinotopy are generally well-preserved in the periphery and subcortical areas (e.g. in the retina, optic nerve and the LGN in the brainstem) and lower cortical areas (e.g., V1 and V2) (e.g., Palmer & Rosenquist (1974)). Typically, receptive fields are larger and less well-defined in higher visual areas and are virtually absent in the associative cortices, where complex associations within and between modalities are made (e.g., Smith et al. (2011)).

Consider the ventral stream in the visual pathway as an example (Fig. 1). Here, the primary visual cortex (V1) shows simple representations of the retinal image with retinotopicity. However, along the way to the associative cortices, cells become responsive to progressively more complicated structures, including specific faces.

ventral stream
Fig. 1. The ventral ('what') stream of the visual system. source: Kaiser & Haselhuhn (2017)

- Kaiser and Haselhuhn, J Neurosci (2017); 37(8): 1965-7
- Palmer & Rosenquist, Brain Res (1974); 67(1): 27-42
- Smith et al., Cerebral Cortex (2011); 11(12): 1182–90

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Might be worth mentioning that the concept of a cortical column is a bit controversial in higher order cortical areas. Personally I don't mind to use the columnar terminology to refer to organization within depth of cortex, and obviously nearby neurons still share connectivity and function in higher-order cortex, but the abrupt feature shifts observed in lower-order cortex are absent. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 9 '18 at 21:15

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