Topology-preserving smoothing of retinotopic maps

Yanshuai Tu, Duyan Ta, Zhong Lin Lu, Yalin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Retinotopic mapping, i.e., the mapping between visual inputs on the retina and neuronal activations in cortical visual areas, is one of the central topics in visual neuroscience. For human observers, the mapping is obtained by analyzing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals of cortical responses to slowly moving visual stimuli on the retina. Although it is well known from neurophysiology that the mapping is topological (i.e., the topology of neighborhood connectivity is preserved) within each visual area, retinotopic maps derived from the state-of-the-art methods are often not topological because of the low signal-to-noise ratio and spatial resolution of fMRI. The violation of topological condition is most severe in cortical regions corresponding to the neighborhood of the fovea (e.g., < 1 degree eccentricity in the Human Connectome Project (HCP) dataset), significantly impeding accurate analysis of retinotopic maps. This study aims to directly model the topological condition and generate topology-preserving and smooth retinotopic maps. Specifically, we adopted the Beltrami coefficient, a metric of quasiconformal mapping, to define the topological condition, developed a mathematical model to quantify topological smoothing as a constrained optimization problem, and elaborated an efficient numerical method to solve the problem. The method was then applied to V1, V2, and V3 simultaneously in the HCP dataset. Experiments with both simulated and real retinotopy data demonstrated that the proposed method could generate topological and smooth retinotopic maps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1009216
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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