Characterizing retinotopic mapping using conformal geometry and Beltrami coefficient: a preliminary study

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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been widely used to measure the retinotopic organization of early visual cortex in the human brain. Previous studies have identified multiple visual field maps (VFMs) based on statistical analysis of fMRI signals, but the

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been widely used to measure the retinotopic organization of early visual cortex in the human brain. Previous studies have identified multiple visual field maps (VFMs) based on statistical analysis of fMRI signals, but the resulting geometry has not been fully characterized with mathematical models. This thesis explores using concepts from computational conformal geometry to create a custom software framework for examining and generating quantitative mathematical models for characterizing the geometry of early visual areas in the human brain. The software framework includes a graphical user interface built on top of a selected core conformal flattening algorithm and various software tools compiled specifically for processing and examining retinotopic data. Three conformal flattening algorithms were implemented and evaluated for speed and how well they preserve the conformal metric. All three algorithms performed well in preserving the conformal metric but the speed and stability of the algorithms varied. The software framework performed correctly on actual retinotopic data collected using the standard travelling-wave experiment. Preliminary analysis of the Beltrami coefficient for the early data set shows that selected regions of V1 that contain reasonably smooth eccentricity and polar angle gradients do show significant local conformality, warranting further investigation of this approach for analysis of early and higher visual cortex.