Response properties of visual cortical neurons in cats reared in stroboscopic illumination

J Neurophysiol. 1983 Mar;49(3):686-704. doi: 10.1152/jn.1983.49.3.686.


1. The response properties of 182 units were studied in the primary visual cortices (155 in area 18 and 27 in area 17) in eight cats reared from birth in a stroboscopically illuminated environment (frequency, 2/s; duration, 200 microseconds). Multihistogram quantitative testing was carried out in 82 units (64 in area 18 and 18 in area 17). Two hundred three neurons recorded and quantitatively tested in areas 17 and 18 of the normal adult cat were used for comparison. 2. Spatial characteristics of receptive fields investigated using hand-held stimuli were found to be abnormal. The correlation between receptive-field width and eccentricity was lost in area 18 and consequently, receptive fields were significantly wider in area 18 subserving central vision. Cells could be classified according to the spatial characteristics of their receptive fields. There was a much smaller proportion of end-stopped cells in strobe-reared animals. Orientation tuning in the deprived animals was normal except for a small number of cells that showed no selectivity for stimulus orientation. 3. Compilation of velocity-response curves made it possible to classify areas 17 and 18 neurons into four categories: velocity low-pass, velocity broad-band, velocity tuned, and velocity high-pass cells. The proportion of velocity high-pass cells was reduced in area 18 subserving peripheral vision, as was the proportion of velocity-tuned cells in area 18 subserving central vision. 4. In the strobe-reared animal velocity sensitivity was somewhat different from that of the normal animal. Neurons in area 18 subserving the peripheral visual field failed to respond to fast velocities. Neurons in area 17 subserving the central visual field in strobe-reared animals responded to slightly higher velocities than in the normal animal. 5. In the deprived animals the number of neurons that were selective to the direction of motion was strongly reduced. The majority of neurons failed to show a selectivity for direction at all velocities. A number of neurons could be directional at some velocities but were unreliable, since they inverted their preferred direction with velocity changes. 6. Binocular convergence onto visual cortical cells was perturbed. In area 18 the majority of neurons were driven by the contralateral eye. In area 17 most neurons could be driven only by either the ipsilateral or contralateral eye. 7. Quantitative testing (of direction selectivity, sensitivity to high velocities, response latency, and strength) and qualitative testing (receptive-field width, end stopping, and ocular dominance) showed that the normal influence of eccentricity on functional properties was strongly reduced by strobe rearing.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields