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Exp Brain Res. 2002 Apr;143(3):295-302. Epub 2002 Feb 12.

GABA-inactivation attenuates colinear facilitation in cat primary visual cortex.

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Research Group, Visual Development and Plasticity, Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Brenneckestrasse 6, 39118 Magdeburg, Germany.


Neurons in primary visual cortex (V1) respond preferentially to stimuli of a particular orientation falling within a circumscribed region of visual space known as their receptive field (RF). However, the response to an optimally oriented stimulus presented within the RF can be enhanced by the simultaneous presentation of co-oriented, co-linearly aligned flank stimuli falling outside the RF which, when presented alone, fail to activate the cell. This type of contextual effect, termed colinear facilitation, presumably forms the physiological substrate for the integration of the line elements of a contour and the perceptual saliency of a contour in a complex environment. Here we show that colinear facilitation in single cells of cat area V1 can be substantially reduced or abolished by focal inactivation of laterally remote cells in the same area which respond strongly to the co-oriented, colinear flank stimulus inducing the facilitatory effect. The results provide evidence that horizontal intrinsic connections between cells with co-oriented and co-linearly aligned RFs make a major contribution to colinear facilitation in V1. They imply that the neuronal circuitry underlying contour integration and saliency is already present at the earliest stage of visual cortical information processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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