Fractal features of dark, maintained, and driven neural discharges in the cat visual system

Methods. 2001 Aug;24(4):377-94. doi: 10.1006/meth.2001.1207.


We employ a number of statistical measures to characterize neural discharge activity in cat retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and in their target lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) neurons under various stimulus conditions, and we develop a new measure to examine correlations in fractal activity between spike-train pairs. In the absence of stimulation (i.e., in the dark), RGC and LGN discharges exhibit similar properties. The presentation of a constant, uniform luminance to the eye reduces the fractal fluctuations in the RGC maintained discharge but enhances them in the target LGN discharge, so that neural activities in the pair cease to be mirror images of each other. A drifting-grating stimulus yields RGC and LGN driven spike trains similar in character to those observed in the maintained discharge, with two notable distinctions: action potentials are reorganized along the time axis so that they occur only during certain phases of the stimulus waveform, and fractal activity is suppressed. Under both uniform-luminance and drifting-grating stimulus conditions (but not in the dark), the discharges of pairs of LGN cells are highly correlated over long time scales; in contrast discharges of RGCs are nearly uncorrelated with each other. This indicates that action-potential activity at the LGN is subject to a common fractal modulation to which the RGCs are not subjected.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fractals*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Time Factors