Spatial and temporal features of synaptic to discharge receptive field transformation in cat area 17

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Feb;103(2):677-97. doi: 10.1152/jn.90946.2008. Epub 2009 Nov 11.


The aim of the present study was to characterize the spatial and temporal features of synaptic and discharge receptive fields (RFs), and to quantify their relationships, in cat area 17. For this purpose, neurons were recorded intracellularly while high-frequency flashing bars were used to generate RFs maps for synaptic and spiking responses. Comparison of the maps shows that some features of the discharge RFs depended strongly on those of the synaptic RFs, whereas others were less dependent. Spiking RF duration depended poorly and spiking RF amplitude depended moderately on those of the underlying synaptic RFs. At the other extreme, the optimal spatial frequency and phase of the discharge RFs in simple cells were almost entirely inherited from those of the synaptic RFs. Subfield width, in both simple and complex cells, was less for spiking responses compared with synaptic responses, but synaptic to discharge width ratio was relatively variable from cell to cell. When considering the whole RF of simple cells, additional variability in width ratio resulted from the presence of additional synaptic subfields that remained subthreshold. Due to these additional, subthreshold subfields, spatial frequency tuning predicted from synaptic RFs appears sharper than that predicted from spiking RFs. Excitatory subfield overlap in spiking RFs was well predicted by subfield overlap at the synaptic level. When examined in different regions of the RF, latencies appeared to be quite variable, but this variability showed negligible dependence on distance from the RF center. Nevertheless, spiking response latency faithfully reflected synaptic response latency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*