Functional connectivity between simple cells and complex cells in cat striate cortex

Nat Neurosci. 1998 Sep;1(5):395-403. doi: 10.1038/1609.


In the cat primary visual cortex, neurons are classified into the two main categories of simple cells and complex cells based on their response properties. According to the hierarchical model, complex receptive fields derive from convergent inputs of simple cells with similar orientation preferences. This model received strong support from anatomical studies showing that many complex cells lie within the range of layer IV simple-cell axons but outside the range of most thalamic axons. Physiological evidence for the model, however, has remained elusive. Here we demonstrate that layer IV simple cells and layer II and III complex cells show correlated firing consistent with monosynaptic connections. As expected from the hierarchical model, all connections were in the direction from the simple cell to the complex cell, most frequently between cells with similar orientation preferences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Electrophysiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*