Tiny is beautiful!

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Assessing population receptive field (pRF) properties is fundamental to understanding the neural basis of human sensory and cognitive behaviour. However, current approaches require making numerous a priori assumptions which is undesirable. In a recent paper in the journal “Neuroimage” Joana Carvalho and colleagues introduce micro-probing (MP). MP is based on estimating tiny, fixed-size, Gaussian models that efficiently sample the entire visual space and create fine-grained probe maps. Subsequently, we derived population receptive fields (pRFs) from these maps. We demonstrate the usefulness of our method by mapping without using specific stimuli or adapted models the highly abnormal, bilateral pRFs characteristic of observers with albinism, a congenital pathway disorder albinism. Thus, MP provides a versatile framework to visualize, analyze and model, without restrictions, the diverse RFs of cortical subpopulations in health and disease. Want to know more? Find the paper here.

Left: Symmetry maps for an observer with albinism and an age-matched control. Right panel: example probe maps obtained in each observer. The lower probe map shows a mirrored receptive field typical for observers with albinism.