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A comparison of inhibition in orientation and spatial frequency selectivity of cat visual cortex

Naturevolume 321pages237239 (1986) | Download Citation



Neurones in the visual cortex are highly selective for orientation1 and spatial frequency2,3 of visual stimuli. There is strong neurophy-siological evidence that orientation selectivity is enhanced by inhibitory interconnections between columns in the cortex which have different orientation sensitivities4–6, an idea which is supported by experiments using neuropharmacological manipulation7,8 or complex visual stimuli6. It has also been proposed that selectivity for spatial frequency is mediated in part by a similar mechanism to that for orientation, although evidence for this is based on special use of visual stimuli, which hampers interpretation of the findings9,10. We have therefore examined selectivity for both orientation and spatial frequency using a technique which allows direct inferences about inhibitory processes. Our method uses microiontophoresis of an excitatory amino acid to elevate maintained discharge of single neurones in the visual cortex. We then present visual stimuli both within and outside the range of orientations and spatial frequencies which cause a cell to respond with increased discharge. Our results show that orientations presented on either side of the responsive range usually produce clear suppression of maintained discharge. In marked contrast, spatial frequencies shown to either side of the responsive range have little or no effect on maintained activity. We conclude that there is an intracortical organization of inhibitory connections between cells tuned to different orientations but not different spatial frequencies.

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  1. Group in Neurobiology, School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, California, 94720, USA

    • A. S. Ramoa
    • , M. Shadlen
    • , B. C. Skottun
    •  & R. D. Freeman
  2. Dept. de Farmacologia, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Centro de Ciencias da Saude, Bloco J, Ilha Universitaria, 21941, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    • A. S. Ramoa


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