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J Vis. 2002;2(1):12-24.

Receptive field structure of neurons in monkey primary visual cortex revealed by stimulation with natural image sequences.

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Department of Psychology and Brain Research Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Probing the visual system with the ensemble of signals that occur in the natural environment may reveal aspects of processing that are not evident in the neural responses to artificial stimulus sets, such as conventional bars and sinusoidal gratings. However, unsolved is the question of how to use complex natural stimulation, many aspects of which the experimenter cannot completely specify, to study neural processing. Here a method is presented to investigate the structure of a neuron's receptive field based on its response to movie clips and other stimulus ensembles. As a particular case, the technique provides an estimate of the conventional first-order receptive field of a neuron, similar to what can be obtained with other reverse-correlation schemes. This is demonstrated experimentally and with computer simulations. Our analysis also revealed that the receptive fields of both simple and complex cells had regions where image boundaries, independent of their contrast sign, would enhance or suppress the cell's response. In some cases, these signals were tuned for the orientation of the boundary. This demonstrates for the first time that it might be feasible to investigate the receptive field structure of visual neurons from their responses to natural image sequences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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