Seeing What You See

In a study by Tootell et al. (1982), researchers were able to inject metabolic radio-isotope markers into visual cortex area 1 of monkeys when the monkeys saw this pattern:

The marker stains brain cells that are active. When the monkeys were sacrificed and the brain dissected, the researchers saw this, almost haunting, image:

This is a remarkable, beautiful demonstration of how the V1 area of the brain is retinotopically organized. That is, this part of the brain is organized similarly to how the light hits our retinas. Unfortunately, after V1, this information is scrambled and sent to various other parts of the brain for different levels of processing.

About the author

Ian Park

Ian graduated from Wesleyan University in May 2011 with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior. In that same year, he was Director of Photography of a senior documentary thesis film at Wesleyan, which won first place. He recently acted as Director of Photography on a Clinique commercial for a competition--it won honorable mentions. He is currently working as a producer/director/editor of video and other digital content in Soho, NY, as well as working on a soon-to-be-released web series, "Postponed."

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  • Thanks. Amazing image of V1 but why use the word ‘unfortunately’. The brian does as the brian needs, so nothing fortunate or unfortunate about it.

    • Very true! Only unfortunate because it would be amazing to be able to see beautiful, surreal imagines like this from all parts of the visual system. Sometimes the artist in me takes over the neuroscientist in me.

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