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Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 1980;40(4):713-27.

An exploration of the ability of macaques to detect microstimulation of striate cortex.


With its head steadied within a form-fitting mask, a macaque was first taught to signal when it detected the application of 0.2-ms electrical pulses at 50 Hz through electrodes chronically implanted within its striate cortex. Stimuli were then applied via a movable microelectrode and the threshold for the animal’s detection determined at intervals of 50-250 micrometers. With permanently implanted 130- 200-micrometers diameter electrodes such thresholds range between 50 and 250 microamperes (and are highly stable), whereas with the microelectrodes sites were encountered, estimated to be primarily within cortical layers V-VI, where the monkey could reliably detect as little as 2-4 microamperes. The threshold at most sites within striate cortex with the microelectrode, however, was 15-25 microamperes. Background unit activity recorded with the microelectrode varied greatly in different laminae and survived the microstimulation, but has so far provided no clear basis for predicting threshold. It is tentatively hypothesized that the relatively rare points where the threshold is as much as 10 times less than that in the surround arise because the giant, solitary cells of Meynert provide the exclusively effective output for the behavioral response. This hypothesis would also explain the singular uniformity of sensation (a "phosphene") evoked in human subjects by such stimuli, and the equivalence of all such stimuli in striate cortex found for the macaque.

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