Visual information is processed in the cortex by ON and OFF pathways that respond to light and dark stimuli. Responses to darks are stronger, faster, and driven by a larger number of cortical neurons than responses to lights. Here, we demonstrate that these light-dark cortical asymmetries reflect a functional specialization of ON and OFF pathways for different stimulus properties. We show that large long-lasting stimuli drive stronger cortical responses when they are light, whereas small fast stimuli drive stronger cortical responses when they are dark. Moreover, we show that these light-dark asymmetries are preserved under a wide variety of luminance conditions that range from photopic to low mesopic light. Our results suggest that ON and OFF pathways extract different spatiotemporal information from visual scenes, making OFF local-fast signals better suited to maximize visual acuity and ON global-slow signals better suited to guide the eye movements needed for retinal image stabilization.
Keywords: LGN; adaptation; area V1; image stabilization; luminance; receptive field; retina; thalamocortical; thalamus; visual cortex.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.