Send to

Choose Destination
J Physiol. 1991;440:659-96.

An intracellular analysis of the visual responses of neurones in cat visual cortex.

Author information

MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit, Department of Pharmacology, Oxford.


1. Extracellular and intracellular recordings were made from neurones in the visual cortex of the cat in order to compare the subthreshold membrane potentials, reflecting the input to the neurone, with the output from the neurone seen as action potentials. 2. Moving bars and edges, generated under computer control, were used to stimulate the neurones. The membrane potential was digitized and averaged for a number of trials after stripping the action potentials. Comparison of extracellular and intracellular discharge patterns indicated that the intracellular impalement did not alter the neurones' properties. Input resistance of the neurone altered little during stable intracellular recordings (30 min-2 h 50 min). 3. Intracellular recordings showed two distinct patterns of membrane potential changes during optimal visual stimulation. The patterns corresponded closely to the division of S-type (simple) and C-type (complex) receptive fields. Simple cells had a complex pattern of membrane potential fluctuations, involving depolarizations alternating with hyperpolarizations. Complex cells had a simple single sustained plateau of depolarization that was often followed but not preceded by a hyperpolarization. In both simple and complex cells the depolarizations led to action potential discharges. The hyperpolarizations were associated with inhibition of action potential discharge. 4. Stimulating simple cells with non-optimal directions of motion produced little or no hyperpolarization of the membrane in most cases, despite a lack of action potential output. Directional complex cells always produced a single plateau of depolarization leading to action potential discharge in both the optimal and non-optimal directions of motion. The directionality could not be predicted on the basis of the position of the hyperpolarizing inhibitory potentials found in the optimal direction. 5. Stimulation of simple cells with non-optimal orientations occasionally produced slight hyperpolarizations and inhibition of action potential discharge. Complex cells, which had broader orientation tuning than simple cells, could show marked hyperpolarization for non-optimal orientations, but this was not generally the case. 6. The data do not support models of directionality and orientation that rely solely on strong inhibitory mechanisms to produce stimulus selectivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center