Eye position modulates retinotopic responses in early visual areas: a bias for the straight-ahead direction

Francesca Strappini, Sabrina Pitzalis, Abraham Z. Snyder, Mark P. McAvoy, Martin I. Sereno, Maurizio Corbetta, Gordon L. Shulman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Even though the eyes constantly change position, the location of a stimulus can be accurately represented by a population of neurons with retinotopic receptive fields modulated by eye position gain fields. Recent electrophysiological studies, however, indicate that eye position gain fields may serve an additional function since they have a non-uniform spatial distribution that increases the neural response to stimuli in the straight-ahead direction. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging and a wide-field stimulus display to determine whether gaze modulations in early human visual cortex enhance the blood-oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) response to stimuli that are straight-ahead. Subjects viewed rotating polar angle wedge stimuli centered straight-ahead or vertically displaced by ±20° eccentricity. Gaze position did not affect the topography of polar phase-angle maps, confirming that coding was retinotopic, but did affect the amplitude of the BOLD response, consistent with a gain field. In agreement with recent electrophysiological studies, BOLD responses in V1 and V2 to a wedge stimulus at a fixed retinal locus decreased when the wedge location in head-centered coordinates was farther from the straight-ahead direction. We conclude that stimulus-evoked BOLD signals are modulated by a systematic, non-uniform distribution of eye-position gain fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2587-2601
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 19 2014


  • Gain field
  • Gaze
  • Retinotopy
  • Vertical meridian
  • Wide-field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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