Definitions

occipital-lobe

Occipital lobe

The occipital lobe is the visual processing center of the mammalian brain containing most of the anatomical region of the visual cortex. The primary visual cortex is Brodmann area 17, commonly called V1 (visual one). Human V1 is located on the medial side of the occipital lobe within the calcarine sulcus; the full extent of V1 often continues onto the posterior pole of the occipital lobe. V1 is often also called striate cortex because it can be identified by a large stripe of myelin, the Stria of Gennari. Visually driven regions outside V1 are called extrastriate cortex. There are many extrastriate regions, and these are specialized for different visual tasks, such as visuospatial processing, color discrimination and motion perception.

Anatomy

The occipital lobes are the smallest of four true lobes in the human brain. Located in the rearmost portion of the skull, the occipital lobes are part of the forebrain structure.

The lobes rest on the tentorium cerebelli, a process of dura mater that separates the cerebrum from the cerebellum. They are structurally isolated in their respective cerebral hemispheres by the separation of the cerebral fissure. The front edge of the occipitalseveral lateral occipital gyri, which are separated by lateral occipital sulcus.

The occipital aspects along the inside face of each hemisphere are divided by the calcarine sulcus. Above the medial, Y-shaped sulcus lies the cuneus, and the area below the sulcus is the lingual gyrus.

Function

Retinal sensors convey stimuli through the optic tracts to the lateral geniculate bodies, where optic radiations continue to the visual cortex. Each visual cortex receives raw sensory information from the outside half of the retina on the same side of the head and from the inside half of the retina on the other side of the head.

The cuneus (Brodman's area 17) receives visual information from the contralateral superior retina representing the inferior visual field. The lingula receives information from the contralateral inferior retina representing the superior visual field.

Cells on the posterior aspect of the occipital lobes' gray matter are arranged as a spatial map of the retinal field. Functional neuroimaging reveals similar patterns of response in cortical tissue of the lobes when the retinal fields are exposed to a strong pattern.

If one occipital lobe is damaged, the result can be homonomous vision loss from similarly positioned "field cuts" in each eye. Occipital lesions can cause visual hallucinations. Lesions in the parietal-temporal-occipital association area are associated with color agnosia, movement agnosia, and agraphia.

The function of the occipital lobe is to control vision and color recognition. It has also been shown to help in hearing.

Functional anatomy

The occipital lobe is divided into several functional visual areas. Each visual area contains a full map of the visual world. Although there are no anatomical markers distinguishing these areas (except for the prominent striations in the striate cortex), physiologists have used electrode recordings to divide the cortex into different functional regions.

The first functional area is the primary visual cortex. It contains a low-level description of the local orientation, spatial-frequency and color properties within small receptive fields. Primary visual cortex projects to the occipital areas of the ventral stream (visual area V2 and visual area V4), and the occipital areas of the dorsal stream - visual area V3, visual area MT (V5), and visual area DP.

Additional images

See also

References

Search another word or see occipital-lobeon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature