A new computational model of the primary visual cortex (V1) of the macaque monkey was constructed to reconcile the visual functions of V1 with anatomical data on its LGN input, the extreme sparseness of which presented serious challenges to theoretically sound explanations of cortical function. We demonstrate that, even with such sparse input, it is possible to produce robust orientation selectivity, as well as continuity in the orientation map. We went beyond that to find plausible dynamic regimes of our new model that emulate simultaneously experimental data for a wide range of V1 phenomena, beginning with orientation selectivity but also including diversity in neuronal responses, bimodal distributions of the modulation ratio (the simple/complex classification), and dynamic signatures, such as gamma-band oscillations. Intracortical interactions play a major role in all aspects of the visual functions of the model.
Significance statement: We present the first realistic model that has captured the sparseness of magnocellular LGN inputs to the macaque primary visual cortex and successfully derived orientation selectivity from them. Three implications are (1) even in input layers to the visual cortex, the system is less feedforward and more dominated by intracortical signals than previously thought, (2) interactions among cortical neurons in local populations produce dynamics not explained by single neurons, and (3) such dynamics are important for function. Our model also shows that a comprehensive picture is necessary to explain function, because different visual properties are related. This study points to the need for paradigm shifts in neuroscience modeling: greater emphasis on population dynamics and, where possible, a move toward data-driven, comprehensive models.
Keywords: LGN input; computational model; diversity; macaque V1; orientation selectivity; population dynamics.
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