We have analysed, in the awake monkey (Macaca sylvana) the functional properties of 489 neurones in the prelunate visual area (PVA, largely corresponding to V4).
PVA has a coarse retinotopic organization with the lower quadrant of the visual field represented along the prelunate gyrus. The visual periphery is located medio-dorsally, the central visual field laterally near (and within?) the inferior occipital sulcus and the upper quadrant latero-ventrally. The vertical meridian runs caudally within the lunate sulcus, the horizontal meridian crosses the prelunate gyrus and continues into the superior temporal sulcus. Receptive field diameters of neurones vary between 1 degree and 10 degrees with increase towards the visual periphery, but are strictly confined to the contralateral visual field.
28% of the neurones showed spectral sensitivity. About half of these cells had strong spectral opponency, the other half showed only weak opponency with broader spectral response curves. 11 cells (2%) showed striking centre/surround interactions with inhibition, disinhibition or occlusion of the two mechanisms, and different spectral response ranges of the centre and the surround, respectively. 43% of the prelunate cells were responsive to various spatial features without spectral sensitivity. We distinguished on- and off-center cells (2%), direction and movement sensitive cells (10%) and cells sensitive to gratings of parallel lines within a limited range of orientations (about 10%). A special group were cells which responded strongly to stimuli which contained many contrasts (textures without specific orientations and without regular spatial arrangements) (9%). Many of these cells were specifically responsive to variations of the internal structure of such stimuli. 3% of the cells were strongly activated in connection with behaviour: 11 neurones discharged strongly when the monkey looked attentively at a human face or when he responded with facial expressions to a threatening expression of a person. Photographs of faces were not effective.
Some neurones (1%) were activated in connection with eye movement. These neurones were found in the lateral part of the prelunate gyrus. Neurones with spectral or non-spectral properties were clustered within small, irregularly shaped patches of 1-4 mm diameter. It is concluded that the prelunate visual cortex, which we consider as part of area 19, is not just a "colour area", but represents various features of the visual environment (including colour, luminance, movement, texture and behavioral significance), and relates them - through its subcortical and cortical outputs - to behaviour.