Integration of surface information in primary visual cortex

Nat Neurosci. 1998 Nov;1(7):616-20. doi: 10.1038/2849.


Ample evidence suggests that primary visual cortex is involved in the perception of form, and there is increasing evidence that it may also be important in the perception of surfaces. Perceptual qualities of surfaces, such as brightness, are based on extensive integration of information throughout the visual field. In primary visual cortex, we found that the responses of neurons to surfaces were also influenced by the intensity and organization of light in large portions of the visual field. Interactions with surrounding stimuli typically extended 10 to 20 degrees beyond a cell's receptive field the same spatial scale as perceptual interactions. Moreover, there were both facilitatory and inhibitory influences, just as there are additive and substractive perceptual interactions. Surprisingly, influences from outside the receptive field obtained with surface stimuli did not reliably correlate with influences recorded with gratings. These properties suggest that the underlying neuronal interactions may serve as the fundamental building blocks of surface perception.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Computers
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Light
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*