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A precise form of divisive suppression supports population coding in the primary visual cortex

Nature Neuroscience volume 12, pages 637645 (2009) | Download Citation

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  • An Erratum to this article was published on 01 June 2009

This article has been updated

Abstract

The responses of neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) to an optimally oriented grating are suppressed when a non-optimal grating is superimposed. Although cross-orientation suppression is thought to reflect mechanisms that maintain a distributed code for orientation, the effect of superimposed gratings on V1 population responses is unknown. Using intrinsic signal optical imaging, we found that patterns of tree shrew V1 activity evoked by superimposed equal-contrast gratings were predicted by the averages of patterns evoked by individual component gratings. This prediction held across contrasts, for summed sinusoidal gratings or nonsumming square-wave gratings, and was evident in single-unit extracellular recordings. Intracellular recordings revealed consistent levels of suppression throughout the time course of subthreshold responses. These results indicate that divisive suppression powerfully governs population responses to multiple orientations. Moreover, the specific form of suppression that we observed appears to support independent population codes for stimulus orientation and strength and calls for a reassessment of mechanisms that underlie cross-orientation suppression.

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  • 06 May 2009

    In the version of this article initially published, the gray curve in Figure 1j was shifted to the left. The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the members of the Fitzpatrick laboratory for helpful discussions and assistance with data collection and analysis. This work was supported by US National Institutes of Health grants EY06821 to D.F. and EY016319 to S.P.M.

Author information

Author notes

    • Sean P MacEvoy
    •  & Thomas R Tucker

    Present addresses: Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (S.P.M.), and the Department of Biology, Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA (T.R.T.).

Affiliations

  1. Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Sean P MacEvoy
    • , Thomas R Tucker
    •  & David Fitzpatrick

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Contributions

S.P.M. designed the study with D.F. and conducted all of the experiments. T.R.T. wrote the stimulus presentation and data analysis software, provided expertise in intracellular recording techniques and assisted with data interpretation. S.P.M. and D.F. wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sean P MacEvoy.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.2310