Spatial summation in the receptive fields of simple cells in the cat's striate cortex

J. Anthony Movshon, I. D. Thompson, D. J. Tolhurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We have examined the responses of simple cells in the cat's striate cortex to visual patterns that were designed to reveal the extent to which these cells may be considered to sum light-evoked influences linearly across their receptive fields. We used one-dimensional luminance-modulated bars and gratings as stimuli; their orientation was always the same as the preferred orientation of the neurone under study. The majority of simple cells respond to sinusoidal gratings that are moving or whose contrast is modulated in time in a manner consistent with the hypothesis that they have linear spatial summation. Their responses to moving gratings of all spatial frequencies are modulated in synchrony with the passage of the gratings' bars across their receptive fields, and they do not produce unmodulated responses even at the highest spatial frequencies. Many of these cells respond to temporally modulated stationary gratings simply by changing their response amplitude sinusoidally as the spatial phase of the grating is changed. For these neurones, there are two 'null' phases, 180° apart, at which the grating elicits no response: a smaller number of simple cells, all of which have odd symmetric receptive fields, have no 'null' phases for stationary sinusoidal gratings; rather, the temporal phase and amplitude of their response varies in a complicated manner as the spatial phase of the grating is varied. A minority of simple cells appears to have significant non-linearities of spatial summation. These neurones respond to moving gratings of high spatial frequency with a partially or totally unmodulated elevation of firing rate. They have no 'null' phases when tested with stationary gratings, and reveal their non-linearity by giving responses to gratings of some spatial phases that are composed partly or wholly of even harmonics of the stimulus frequency ('on-off' responses). We compared simple receptive fields with their sensitivity to sinusoidal gratings of different spatial frequencies. Qualitatively, the most sensitive subregions of simple cells' receptive fields are roughly the same width as the individual bars of the gratings to which they are most sensitive. Quantitatively, their receptive field profiles measured with thin stationary lines, agree well with predicted profiles derived by Fourier synthesis of their spatial frequency tuning curves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-77
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Physiology
VolumeVol. 283
StatePublished - 1978

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Visual Cortex
Cats
Neurons
Cell Count
Light

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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Spatial summation in the receptive fields of simple cells in the cat's striate cortex. / Movshon, J. Anthony; Thompson, I. D.; Tolhurst, D. J.

In: Journal of Physiology, Vol. Vol. 283, 1978, p. 53-77.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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