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Biol Cybern. 1990;63(3):209-19.

White noise analysis of temporal properties in simple receptive fields of cat cortex.

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Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester, NY 14627.


We studied the linear and nonlinear temporal response properties of simple cells in cat visual cortex by presenting at single positions in the receptive field an optimally oriented bar stimulus whose luminance was modulated in a random, binary fashion. By crosscorrelating a cell's response with the input it was possible to obtain the zeroth-, first-, and second-order Wiener kernels at each RF location. Simple cells showed pronounced nonlinear temporal properties as revealed by the presence of prominent second-order kernels. A more conventional type of response histogram was also calculated by time-locking a histogram on the occurrence of the desired stimulus in the random sequence. A comparison of the time course of this time-locked response with that of the kernel prediction indicated that nonlinear temporal effects of order higher than two are unimportant. The temporal properties of simple cells were well represented by a cascade model composed of a linear filter followed by a static nonlinearity. These modelling results suggested that for simple cells, the nonlinearity occurs late and probably is a soft threshold associated with the spike generating mechanism of the cortical cell itself. This result is surprising in view of the known threshold nonlinearities in preceding lateral geniculate and retinal neurons. It suggests that geniculocortical connectivity cancels the earlier nonlinearities to create a highly linear representation inside cortical simple cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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