On determining the intracranial sources of visual evoked potentials from scalp topography: a reply to Kelly et al. (this issue)

Justin M Ales, Jacob L Yates, Anthony M Norcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The cruciform model posits that if a Visual Evoked Potential component originates in cortical area V1, then stimuli placed in the upper versus lower visual field will generate responses with opposite polarity at the scalp. In our original paper (Ales et al., 2010b) we showed that the cruciform model provides an insufficient criterion for identifying V1 sources. This conclusion was reached on the basis of simulations that used realistic 3D models of early visual areas to simulate scalp topographies expected for stimuli of different sizes and shapes placed in different field locations. The simulations indicated that stimuli placed in the upper and lower visual field produce polarity inverting scalp topographies for activation of areas V2 and V3, but not for area V1. As a consequence of the non-uniqueness of the polarity inversion criterion, we suggested that past studies using the cruciform model had not adequately excluded contributions from sources outside V1. In their comment on our paper, Kelly et al. (this issue) raise several concerns with this suggestion. They claim that our initial results did not use the proper stimulus locations to constitute a valid test of the cruciform model. Kelly et al., also contend that the cortical source of the initial visually evoked component (C1) can be identified based on latency and polarity criteria derived from intracranial recordings in non-human primates. In our reply we show that simulations using the suggested critical stimulus locations are consistent with our original findings and thus do not change our conclusions regarding the use of the polarity inversion criterion. We further show that the anatomical assumptions underlying the putatively optimal locations are not consistent with available V1 anatomical data. We then address the non-human primate data, describing how differences in stimuli across studies and species confound an effective utilization of the non-human primate data for interpreting human evoked potential responses. We also show that, considered more broadly, the non-human primate literature shows that multiple visual areas onset simultaneously with V1. We suggest several directions for future research that will further clarify how to make the best use of scalp data for inferring cortical sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-11
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Brain Mapping
  • Computer Simulation
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Scalp
  • Visual Cortex
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Perception


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