Non-linear population firing rates and voltage sensitive dye signals in visual areas 17 and 18 to short duration stimuli

PLoS One. 2008 Jul 16;3(7):e2673. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002673.


Visual stimuli of short duration seem to persist longer after the stimulus offset than stimuli of longer duration. This visual persistence must have a physiological explanation. In ferrets exposed to stimuli of different durations we measured the relative changes in the membrane potentials with a voltage sensitive dye and the action potentials of populations of neurons in the upper layers of areas 17 and 18. For durations less than 100 ms, the timing and amplitude of the firing and membrane potentials showed several non-linear effects. The ON response became truncated, the OFF response progressively reduced, and the timing of the OFF responses progressively delayed the shorter the stimulus duration. The offset of the stimulus elicited a sudden and strong negativity in the time derivative of the dye signal. All these non-linearities could be explained by the stimulus offset inducing a sudden inhibition in layers II-III as indicated by the strongly negative time derivative of the dye signal. Despite the non-linear behavior of the layer II-III neurons the sum of the action potentials, integrated from the peak of the ON response to the peak of the OFF response, was almost linearly related to the stimulus duration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coloring Agents / pharmacology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Eye / pathology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Photons
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Time Factors
  • Vision, Ocular
  • Visual Cortex / pathology


  • Coloring Agents