An Anatomically Constrained Model of V1 Simple Cells Predicts the Coexistence of Push-Pull and Broad Inhibition

J Neurosci. 2021 Sep 15;41(37):7797-7812. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0928-20.2021. Epub 2021 Jul 28.


The spatial organization and dynamic interactions between excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs that define the receptive field (RF) of simple cells in the cat primary visual cortex (V1) still raise the following paradoxical issues: (1) stimulation of simple cells in V1 with drifting gratings supports a wiring schema of spatially segregated sets of excitatory and inhibitory inputs activated in an opponent way by stimulus contrast polarity and (2) in contrast, intracellular studies using flashed bars suggest that although ON and OFF excitatory inputs are indeed segregated, inhibitory inputs span the entire RF regardless of input contrast polarity. Here, we propose a biologically detailed computational model of simple cells embedded in a V1-like network that resolves this seeming contradiction. We varied parametrically the RF-correlation-based bias for excitatory and inhibitory synapses and found that a moderate bias of excitatory neurons to synapse onto other neurons with correlated receptive fields and a weaker bias of inhibitory neurons to synapse onto other neurons with anticorrelated receptive fields can explain the conductance input, the postsynaptic membrane potential, and the spike train dynamics under both stimulation paradigms. This computational study shows that the same structural model can reproduce the functional diversity of visual processing observed during different visual contexts.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Identifying generic connectivity motives in cortical circuitry encoding for specific functions is crucial for understanding the computations implemented in the cortex. Indirect evidence points to correlation-based biases in the connectivity pattern in V1 of higher mammals, whereby excitatory and inhibitory neurons preferentially synapse onto neurons respectively with correlated and anticorrelated receptive fields. A recent intracellular study questions this push-pull hypothesis, failing to find spatial anticorrelation patterns between excitation and inhibition across the receptive field. We present here a spiking model of V1 that integrates relevant anatomic and physiological constraints and shows that a more versatile motif of correlation-based connectivity with selectively tuned excitation and broadened inhibition is sufficient to account for the diversity of functional descriptions obtained for different classes of stimuli.

Keywords: circuits; conductance analysis; cortex; primary visual cortex; push–pull; spiking model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology