One of the fundamental properties of mammalian brains is that sensory regions of cortex are organized into multiple, functionally specialized cortical field maps (CFMs). An individual CFM is composed of two orthogonal topographical representations, reflecting two essential aspects of a sensory feature space. Each CFM is thought to subserve a specific computation or set of computations that underlie particular perceptual behaviors by enabling the comparison and combination of the information carried by the various specialized neuronal populations within this cortical region. Multiple adjacent CFMs, in turn, have now been shown by multiple laboratories to be organized in visual and auditory cortex into a macrostructural pattern called the cloverleaf cluster. CFMs within cloverleaf clusters tend to share properties such as receptive field distribution, cortical magnification, and processing specialization. This chapter will review the evidence for CFM and cloverleaf cluster organization across human visual and auditory cortex and will discuss the utility of these measurements for determining cortical structure and function and for investigating what changes occur in sensory cortex following various types of trauma or disease.
Part of the book: Sensory Nervous System