Visual cortical receptive fields in monkey and cat: spatial and temporal phase transfer function

Vision Res. 1989;29(10):1285-308. doi: 10.1016/0042-6989(89)90186-7.


The response amplitude of simple cortical cells to spatiotemporal sine-wave patterns has been thoroughly documented in both cat and monkey. However, comparable measurements of response phase are not available even though phase measurements are essential for estimating the complete transfer function of a cell, and thus its spatiotemporal receptive field. This report describes a simple procedure for measuring both the amplitude and the phase transfer functions of striate cells. This technique was applied to 15 monkey and 27 cat simple cells. The spatiotemporal phase response functions were found to be adequately described by linear equations in four parameters. Both the amplitude and phase responses were found to satisfy several strong constraints implied by the class of linear quadrature models proposed recently in theories of biological motion sensitivity. Because the data satisfied these constraints, it was possible to determine four important receptive field properties from the phase data: the spatial symmetry, the temporal symmetry, the response latency, and the spatial position. The receptive fields were found to have a wide range of spatial symmetries, but a more narrow range of temporal symmetries. Spatiotemporal receptive fields reconstructed from complete transfer functions are used to illustrate some of the differences between direction selective and nondirection selective cells. Finally, the effects of linear and nonlinear mechanisms on amplitude, phase, and direction selective responses are considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Electrophysiology
  • Haplorhini
  • Mathematics
  • Methods
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Perception / physiology*