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J Neurosci. 2004 Feb 11;24(6):1428-38.

Relationship between excitation and inhibition underlying size tuning and contextual response modulation in the cat primary visual cortex.

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School of Health and Sport Sciences, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan.


In the primary visual cortex (V1), the single-neuron response to a grating stimulus placed in the classical receptive field (CRF) is suppressed by a similar stimulus presented in the CRF surround. To assess the input mechanism underlying the surround suppression, we tested the effects of iontophoretically administered GABA(A)-receptor antagonist, bicuculline methiodide (BMI), for the 46 V1 neurons in anesthetized cats. First, the stimulus-size tuning curves were studied, with or without BMI administration, for each neuron by changing the size of the grating patch. During the BMI administration, the shape of the normalized size tuning curve did not change considerably. Second, the dependency of surround suppression on the orientation of the surround grating was examined. In the control, the surround suppression showed the clear orientation tuning that peaked at an orientation the same as the optimal orientation of the CRF response. The BMI administration did not change the orientation dependency of surround suppression. We also estimated the relative contribution of excitation and inhibition to the size and orientation tuning of surround suppression. It was concluded that cortical excitation and inhibition were well balanced, having similar tuning profiles for both stimulus size and orientation of the surround grating. Furthermore, surround stimuli used for V1 neurons suppressed the CRF response of neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus. These results suggest that surround suppression is not primarily attributable to the intracortical inhibition, but because of a reduction of thalamocortical inputs, which drive the cortical excitation and inhibition, and a subsequent decrease in the cortical excitatory interactions.

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