Neocortical Rebound Depolarization Enhances Visual Perception

PLoS Biol. 2015 Aug 14;13(8):e1002231. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002231. eCollection 2015 Aug.


Animals are constantly exposed to the time-varying visual world. Because visual perception is modulated by immediately prior visual experience, visual cortical neurons may register recent visual history into a specific form of offline activity and link it to later visual input. To examine how preceding visual inputs interact with upcoming information at the single neuron level, we designed a simple stimulation protocol in which a brief, orientated flashing stimulus was subsequently coupled to visual stimuli with identical or different features. Using in vivo whole-cell patch-clamp recording and functional two-photon calcium imaging from the primary visual cortex (V1) of awake mice, we discovered that a flash of sinusoidal grating per se induces an early, transient activation as well as a long-delayed reactivation in V1 neurons. This late response, which started hundreds of milliseconds after the flash and persisted for approximately 2 s, was also observed in human V1 electroencephalogram. When another drifting grating stimulus arrived during the late response, the V1 neurons exhibited a sublinear, but apparently increased response, especially to the same grating orientation. In behavioral tests of mice and humans, the flashing stimulation enhanced the detection power of the identically orientated visual stimulation only when the second stimulation was presented during the time window of the late response. Therefore, V1 late responses likely provide a neural basis for admixing temporally separated stimuli and extracting identical features in time-varying visual environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Photic Stimulation* / methods
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*

Grants and funding

This work was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Science Research on Innovative Areas, "Mesoscopic Neurocircuitry" (22115003) and "Mental Time" (25119004) and the Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences on the "Development of BMI Technologies for Clinical Application". The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.