Broadband temporal stimuli decrease the integration time of neurons in cat striate cortex

Vis Neurosci. 1992 Jul;9(1):39-45. doi: 10.1017/s0952523800006350.


We have studied the responses of striate cortical neurons to stimuli whose contrast is modulated in time by either a single sinusoid or by the sum of eight sinusoids. The sum-of-sinusoids stimulus resembles white noise and has been used to study the linear and nonlinear dynamics of retinal ganglion cells (Victor et al., 1977). In cortical neurons, we have found different linear and second-order responses to single-sinusoid and sum-of-sinusoids inputs. Specifically, while the responsivity near the optimal temporal frequency is lower for the sum-of-sinusoids stimulus, the responsivity at higher temporal frequencies is relatively greater. Along with this change in the response amplitudes, there is a systematic change in the time course of responses. For complex cells, the integration time, the effective delay due to a combination of actual delays and low-pass filter stages, changes from a median of 85 ms with single sinusoids to 57 ms with a sum of sinusoids. For simple cells, the integration times for single sinusoids range from 44-100 ms, but cluster tightly around 40 ms for the sum-of-sinusoids stimulus. The change in time constant would argue that the increased sensitivity to high frequencies cannot be explained by a static threshold, but must be caused by a fundamental alteration in the response dynamics. These effects are not seen in the retina (Shapley & Victor, 1981) and are most likely cortical in origin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*