Visual properties of neurons in area V4 of the macaque: sensitivity to stimulus form

J Neurophysiol. 1987 Mar;57(3):835-68. doi: 10.1152/jn.1987.57.3.835.


Area V4, a visuotopically organized area in prestriate cortex of the macaque, is the major source of visual input to the inferior temporal cortex, known to be crucial for object recognition. To examine the selectivity of cells in V4 for stimulus form, we quantitatively measured the responses of 322 cells to bars varying in length, width, orientation, and polarity of contrast, and sinusoidal gratings varying in spatial frequency, phase, orientation, and overall size. All of the cells recorded in V4 were located on the lower portion of the prelunate gyrus. Receptive fields were located almost exclusively within the representation of the central 5 degrees of the lower visual field, and receptive field size, in linear dimension, was 4-7 times greater than that in the corresponding representation of striate cortex (V1). Nearly all receptive fields consisted of overlapping dark and light zones, like "classic" complex fields in V1, but the relative strengths of the dark and light zones often differed. A few cells responded exclusively to light or dark stimuli. Many cells in V4 were selective for stimulus orientation, and a few were selective for direction of motion as well. Although the median orientation bandwidth of the orientation-selective cells (52 degrees) was wider than that reported for oriented cells in V1, approximately 8% of the oriented cells had bandwidths of less than 30 degrees, which is nearly as narrow as the most narrowly tuned cells in V1. The proportion of cells selective for direction of motion (13%) was not markedly different from that reported in V1. The large majority of V4 cells were tuned to the length and width of bars, and the "shape" of the optimal bar varied from cell to cell, as has been reported for cells in the dorsolateral visual area (DL) of the owl monkey, a possible homologue of V4 in the macaque. Preferred lengths and widths varied independently from approximately 0.05 to 6 degrees, with the smallest preferred bars about the size of the smallest receptive fields in V1 and the largest preferred bars larger than any fields in V1. The relationship between the size of the optimal bar and the size of the receptive field varied from cell to cell. Some cells, for example, responded best to bars much narrower or shorter than the field, whereas other cells responded best to bars that filled (but did not extend beyond) the excitatory field in the length, width, or both dimensions.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Occipital Lobe / cytology
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Psychophysics
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Perception / physiology*