Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 1998 Nov 12;396(6707):165-8.

State-dependent receptive-field restructuring in the visual cortex.

Author information

Institut für Physiologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany.


To extract important information from the environment on a useful timescale, the visual system must be able to adapt rapidly to constantly changing scenes. This requires dynamic control of visual resolution, possibly at the level of the responses of single neurons. Individual cells in the visual cortex respond to light stimuli on particular locations (receptive fields) on the retina, and the structure of these receptive fields can change in different contexts. Here we show experimentally that the shape of receptive fields in the primary visual cortex of anaesthetized cats undergoes significant modifications, which are correlated with the general state of the brain as assessed by electroencephalography: receptive fields are wider during synchronized states and smaller during non-synchronized states. We also show that cortical receptive fields shrink over time when stimulated with flashing light spots. Finally, by using a network model we account for the changing size of the cortical receptive fields by dynamically rescaling the levels of excitation and inhibition in the visual thalamus and cortex. The observed dynamic changes in the sizes of the cortical receptive field could be a reflection of a process that adapts the spatial resolution within the primary visual pathway to different states of excitability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center