Visual cortical cells are commonly characterized by their receptive-field structure. Originally, a visual receptive field was defined in a purely spatial way as that retinal area from which a change in spiking response of the regarded cell could be elicited by visual stimulation. The first attempts to understand receptive-field structure were based entirely on the anatomical connectivity of the primary visual pathway. More recently, however, it has been discovered that the spatial and temporal context in which a stimulus is presented to a cell can strongly influence its receptive field, and this in turn is dependent on the state of arousal and attention. Accordingly, new concepts recognize that cortical receptive fields are highly dynamic entities embracing more than the sum of the full spatial and temporal response properties of a cell.