Lack of homogeneity of receptive fields of visual neurons in the cortical area 18 of the cat

Biol Cybern. 1988;59(1):41-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00336889.


The receptive fields of "complex" neurons within area 18 of the cerebral cortex of the cat were determined by a computer-assisted method using a moving light bar substantially shorter than the long diameter of the receptive field as a visual stimulus. The visual cells repeatedly generated nerve impulses when the stimulus crossed well-defined "active points" within their receptive fields. Outside of these active points, the cells remained silent. It is suggested that the receptive fields are formed by a discontinuous accumulation of such active points. When the electrical activities of two neighbouring visual neurons are recorded simultaneously, their active points do not coincide. In addition, some active points were located outside the most prominent excitatory part of the receptive field of the studied cells. Individual visual cells typically differ in the number and distribution of active points. Since these cells best respond to a stimulus moving in a certain direction, it is suggested that they may act as direction of movement and/or velocity detectors. Alternate firing of a number of neighboring cells connected to a distributed pattern of peripheral receptors may form a system which is able to code for velocity and direction of the moving stimulus.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature
  • Cats
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*