The responses of neurons in the visual pathway depend on the context in which a stimulus is presented. Responses to predictable stimuli are usually suppressed, highlighting responses to unexpected stimuli that might be important for behavior. Here, we established how context modulates the response of neurons in the superior colliculus (SC), a region important in orienting toward or away from visual stimuli. We made extracellular recordings from single units in the superficial layers of SC in awake mice. We found strong suppression of visual response by spatial context (surround suppression) and temporal context (adaptation). Neurons showing stronger surround suppression also showed stronger adaptation effects. In neurons where it was present, surround suppression was dynamic and was reduced by adaptation. Adaptation's effects further revealed two components to surround suppression: one component that was weakly tuned for orientation and adaptable, and another component that was more strongly tuned but less adaptable. The selectivity of the tuned component was flexible, such that suppression was stronger when the stimulus over the surround matched that over the receptive field. Our results therefore reveal strong interactions between spatial and temporal context in regulating the flow of signals through mouse SC, and suggest the presence of a subpopulation of neurons that might signal novelty in either space or time.
Keywords: adaptation; functional properties; non-classical receptive field; suppression; tectum; vision.
Copyright © 2020 De Franceschi and Solomon.