I’m not so sure of that anymore. There are two types of quilts, the first is the major sensory field projection onto the cortical substrate. It is globally discontinuous, but locally continuous. This is a very different type of quilt than the “fingerprint” / “zebra stripe” quilts. I’m not sure these patterns encourage the spread of activations any more than a direct projection of their positions within the sensory space would.
This only happens in the “major sensory projection” described above, specifically in somatic cortex, but also to a lesser extend in visual cortex, as there is folding of the visual field along V1/V2 border and further discontinuities further up the hierarchy. And here I would not call the input “well shuffled” really. Most of the sensory area patches are in generally the right place. It just looks like a drunk threw them together… or that the nerve bundles just sortof fell together that way as they joined up toward the spinal column.
Maybe the more important function of this minor quilting (fingerprints, stripes) is to create local groups so that computations can occur. It reminds me of how mini-column neighborhoods are necessary during spatial pooling when there is topology in the structure. Cells need to be grouped somehow for local computations to start happening, and I think this discontinuity (especially where borders between slabs are sharp) might arise to allow it. (I don’t know how to describe the more continuous minor quilting, like orientation and RA/SA yet.)