Nature and interaction of signals from the receptive field center and surround in macaque V1 neurons

J Neurophysiol. 2002 Nov;88(5):2530-46. doi: 10.1152/jn.00692.2001.


Information is integrated across the visual field to transform local features into a global percept. We now know that V1 neurons provide more spatial integration than originally thought due to the existence of their nonclassical inhibitory surrounds. To understand spatial integration in the visual cortex, we have studied the nature and extent of center and surround influences on neuronal response. We used drifting sinusoidal gratings in circular and annular apertures to estimate the sizes of the receptive field's excitatory center and suppressive surround. We used combinations of stimuli inside and outside the receptive field to explore the nature of the surround influence on the receptive field center as a function of the relative and absolute contrast of stimuli in the two regions. We conclude that the interaction is best explained as a divisive modulation of response gain by signals from the surround. We then develop a receptive field model based on the ratio of signals from Gaussian-shaped center and surround mechanisms. We show that this model can account well for the variations in receptive field size with contrast that we and others have observed and for variations in size with the state of contrast adaptation. The model achieves this success by simple variations in the relative gain of the two component mechanisms of the receptive field. This model thus offers a parsimonious explanation of a variety of phenomena involving changes in apparent receptive field size and accounts for these phenomena purely in terms of two receptive field mechanisms that do not themselves change in size. We used the extent of the center mechanism in our model as an indicator of the spatial extent of the central excitatory portion of the receptive field. We compared the extent of the center to measurements of horizontal connections within V1 and determined that horizontal intracortical connections are well matched in extent to the receptive field center mechanism. Input to the suppressive surround may come in part from feedback signals from higher areas.

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

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Electrodes
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*