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J Neurosci. 2008 Jul 23;28(30):7520-36. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0623-08.2008.

Highly selective receptive fields in mouse visual cortex.

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Department of Physiology, W M Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0444, USA.


Genetic methods available in mice are likely to be powerful tools in dissecting cortical circuits. However, the visual cortex, in which sensory coding has been most thoroughly studied in other species, has essentially been neglected in mice perhaps because of their poor spatial acuity and the lack of columnar organization such as orientation maps. We have now applied quantitative methods to characterize visual receptive fields in mouse primary visual cortex V1 by making extracellular recordings with silicon electrode arrays in anesthetized mice. We used current source density analysis to determine laminar location and spike waveforms to discriminate putative excitatory and inhibitory units. We find that, although the spatial scale of mouse receptive fields is up to one or two orders of magnitude larger, neurons show selectivity for stimulus parameters such as orientation and spatial frequency that is near to that found in other species. Furthermore, typical response properties such as linear versus nonlinear spatial summation (i.e., simple and complex cells) and contrast-invariant tuning are also present in mouse V1 and correlate with laminar position and cell type. Interestingly, we find that putative inhibitory neurons generally have less selective, and nonlinear, responses. This quantitative description of receptive field properties should facilitate the use of mouse visual cortex as a system to address longstanding questions of visual neuroscience and cortical processing.

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