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Vis Neurosci. 1996 Jan-Feb;13(1):173-86.

Modelling the spatio-temporal modulation response of ganglion cells with difference-of-Gaussians receptive fields: relation to photoreceptor response kinetics.

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Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Difference-of-Gaussians (DOG) models for the receptive fields of retinal ganglion cells accurately predict linear responses to both periodic stimuli (typically moving sinusoidal gratings) and aperiodic stimuli (typically circular fields presented as square-wave pulses). While the relation of spatial organization to retinal anatomy has received considerable attention, temporal characteristics have been only loosely connected to retinal physiology. Here we integrate realistic photoreceptor response waveforms into the DOG model to clarify how far a single set of physiological parameters predict temporal aspects of linear responses to both periodic and aperiodic stimuli. Traditional filter-cascade models provide a useful first-order approximation of the single-photon response in photoreceptors. The absolute time scale of these, plus a time for retinal transmission, here construed as a fixed delay, are obtained from flash/step data. Using these values, we find that the DOG model predicts the main features of both the amplitude and phase response of linear cat ganglion cells to sinusoidal flicker. Where the simplest model formulation fails, it serves to reveal additional mechanisms. Unforeseen facts are the attenuation of low temporal frequencies even in pure center-type responses, and the phase advance of the response relative to the stimulus at low frequencies. Neither can be explained by any experimentally documented cone response waveform, but both would be explained by signal differentiation, e.g. in the retinal transmission pathway, as demonstrated at least in turtle retina.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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