On the relation between receptive field structure and stimulus selectivity in the tree shrew primary visual cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2014 Oct;24(10):2761-71. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht133. Epub 2013 May 21.


There are notable differences in functional properties of primary visual cortex (V1) neurons among mammalian species, particularly those concerning the occurrence of simple and complex cells and the generation of orientation selectivity. Here, we present quantitative data on receptive field (RF) structure, response modulation, and orientation tuning for single neurons in V1 of the tree shrew, a close relative of primates. We find that spatial RF subfield segregation, a criterion for identifying simple cells, was exceedingly small in the tree shrew V1. In contrast, many neurons exhibited elevated F1/F0 modulation that is often used as a simple cell marker. This apparent discrepancy can be explained by the robust stimulus polarity preference in tree shrew V1, which inflates F1/F0 ratio values. RF structure mapped with sparse-noise-which is spatially restricted and emphasizes thalamo-cortical feed-forward inputs-appeared unrelated to orientation selectivity. However, RF structure mapped using the Hartley subspace stimulus-which covers a large area of the visual field and recruits considerable intracortical processing-did predict orientation preference. Our findings reveal a number of striking similarities in V1 functional organization between tree shrews and primates, emphasizing the important role of intracortical recurrent processing in shaping V1 response properties in these species.

Keywords: V1; complex cells; orientation tuning; simple cells; striate cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Tupaia
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*