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Neuron. 2006 Dec 21;52(6):1073-83.

Brightness induction: rate enhancement and neuronal synchronization as complementary codes.

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Mibeg-Institut for Media, Sachsenring 37-39, 50677 Cologne, Germany.


In cat visual cortex, we investigated with parallel recordings from multiple units the neuronal correlates of perceived brightness. The perceived brightness of a center grating was changed by varying the orientation or the relative spatial phase of a surrounding grating. Brightness enhancement by orientation contrast is associated with an increase of discharge rates of responses to the center grating but not with changes in spike synchronization. In contrast, if brightness enhancement is induced by phase offset, discharge rates are unchanged but synchronization increases between neurons responding to the center grating. The changes in synchronization correlate well with changes in perceived brightness that were assessed in parallel in human subjects using the same stimuli. These results indicate that in cerebral cortex the modulation of synchronicity of responses is used as a mechanism complementary to rate changes to enhance the saliency of neuronal responses.

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