Introduction

This chapter deals with the early history of the study of visual processing by the eye and brain. I begin by considering the first recognition of how images are formed in the vertebrate eye and early contributions to understanding the structure and function of the retina. I go on to discuss the connections from the retina to the cortex by way of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), and the evidence that led to the recognition and spatial mapping of the visual fields on the primary visual cortex. Finally, I describe some of the studies that began to reveal the multiplicity of visual cortical areas and their functions. Because of space limitations, many interesting aspects of the history, such as color vision, visual reflexes, subcortical visual structures, and the controversies over the interpretation of macular sparing after visual cortex lesions must be beyond the scope of this chapter. The emphasis is on fundamentals of structure and its relation to visual function.

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