Mapping of stimulus energy in primary visual cortex

J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jul;94(1):788-98. doi: 10.1152/jn.01094.2004. Epub 2005 Mar 9.


A recent optical imaging study of primary visual cortex (V1) by Basole, White, and Fitzpatrick demonstrated that maps of preferred orientation depend on the choice of stimuli used to measure them. These authors measured population responses expressed as a function of the optimal orientation of long drifting bars. They then varied bar length, direction, and speed and found that stimuli of a same orientation can elicit different population responses and stimuli with different orientation can elicit similar population responses. We asked whether these results can be explained from known properties of V1 receptive fields. We implemented an "energy model" where a receptive field integrates stimulus energy over a region of three-dimensional frequency space. The population of receptive fields defines a volume of visibility, which covers all orientations and a plausible range of spatial and temporal frequencies. This energy model correctly predicts the population response to bars of different length, direction, and speed and explains the observations made with optical imaging. The model also readily explains a related phenomenon, the appearance of motion streaks for fast-moving dots. We conclude that the energy model can be applied to activation maps of V1 and predicts phenomena that may otherwise appear to be surprising. These results indicate that maps obtained with optical imaging reflect the layout of neurons selective for stimulus energy, not for isolated stimulus features such as orientation, direction, and speed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Psychophysics
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Perception / physiology*