About the book
Topographical representations of sensory information – termed cortical field maps (CFMs) – are emerging as a fundamental organizational pattern for perceptual processing across the sensory cortex in numerous mammalian species. In humans, the historically most-studied sensory topography is the representation of visual space in the visual system, called a visual field map. More recent studies have revealed similar maps of auditory feature space – auditory field maps – in the human auditory cortex, and partial topographies in somatosensory, gustatory, and olfactory cortices, suggesting that CFMs serve as the building blocks of sensory processing. Such organized topographies within sensory pathways are thought to support the comparison and combination of the information carried by the various specialized neuronal populations. The orderly connectivity arising from such an organization is likely important for increasing the efficiency of such local processes like lateral inhibition and gain control and may provide a framework for sensory processing across the sensory hierarchy. In addition, understanding the organization of these maps provides a baseline for studying reorganization following abnormal development or cortical damage and for tracking cortical recovery during medical interventions and rehabilitation.
Computational neuroimaging currently provides the best approach for studying such cortical organization in vivo in humans. By taking advantage of our knowledge of the organization of sensory input, multiple cortical representations of sensory space can be measured using high-resolution functional MRI and cutting-edge computational analyses such as population receptive field modeling. This proposed book will be composed of a series of computational neuroimaging studies of the human sensory cortex that capitalize on our ability to measure these cortical field maps with a high level of detail in individual subjects. The chapters will examine our current understanding of how sensory information is represented across the human cortex devoted to each of our five primary senses as well as our progress towards translating these fundamental research findings into updates for clinical interventions for sensory damage or disease.