The influence of surround suppression on adaptation effects in primary visual cortex

J Neurophysiol. 2012 Jun;107(12):3370-84. doi: 10.1152/jn.00739.2011. Epub 2012 Mar 14.


Adaptation, the prolonged presentation of stimuli, has been used to probe mechanisms of visual processing in physiological, imaging, and perceptual studies. Previous neurophysiological studies have measured adaptation effects by using stimuli tailored to evoke robust responses in individual neurons. This approach provides an incomplete view of how an adapter alters the representation of sensory stimuli by a population of neurons with diverse functional properties. We implanted microelectrode arrays in primary visual cortex (V1) of macaque monkeys and measured orientation tuning and contrast sensitivity in populations of neurons before and after prolonged adaptation. Whereas previous studies in V1 have reported that adaptation causes stimulus-specific suppression of responsivity and repulsive shifts in tuning preference, we have found that adaptation can also lead to response facilitation and shifts in tuning toward the adapter. To explain this range of effects, we have proposed and tested a simple model that employs stimulus-specific suppression in both the receptive field and the spatial surround. The predicted effects on tuning depend on the relative drive provided by the adapter to these two receptive field components. Our data reveal that adaptation can have a much richer repertoire of effects on neuronal responsivity and tuning than previously considered and suggest an intimate mechanistic relationship between spatial and temporal contextual effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology