Receptive-field maps of correlated discharge between pairs of neurons in the cat's visual cortex

J Neurophysiol. 1994 Jan;71(1):330-46. doi: 10.1152/jn.1994.71.1.330.


1. To investigate the functional significance of temporally correlated discharge between nearby cells in the visual cortex, we obtained receptive-field maps of correlated discharge for 68 cell pairs in kittens and cats. Discharge from cell pairs was measured by a single extracellular electrode. A reverse correlation procedure was used to relate neural discharge to particular stimuli within a random sequence of briefly flashed bright and dark bars. Bicellular receptive fields (BRFs) were mapped by applying reverse correlation to approximately synchronous discharge from two cells. Unicellular receptive fields (URFs) were simultaneously mapped by separately applying reverse correlation to the discharge of each cell. 2. The receptive fields of the two neurons within each pair were initially studied by varying the orientation and spatial frequency of drifting sinusoidal gratings. After these tests a random sequence of appropriately oriented bars was used to evoke discharge suitable for reverse correlation analysis. For most cell pairs, the temporal pattern or strength of correlated discharge produced by such stimulation is different from that observed with stimulation by sinusoidal gratings. This indicates that visually evoked correlated discharge between nearby cells is stimulus dependent. 3. BRFs were classified according to their pattern of spatial sensitivity into three groups that roughly correspond to the single-cell receptive-field types of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN; center-surround) and visual cortex (simple and complex). These classifications were compared with the receptive-field types of the single cells within each pair. LGN-type and simple-type BRFs were only seen for pairs in which at least one of the cells was simple. Conversely, complex-type BRFs were only seen for pairs in which at least one of the cells was complex. 4. Because the reverse correlation procedure can be used to characterize the spatiotemporal receptive-field structure of simple cells, we were able to compare both the spatial and temporal properties associated with the URFs and BRFs of simple cell pairs. The spatiotemporal structure of the BRF of a simple-cell pair can largely be predicted on the basis of the two URFs. Although this prediction suggests the possibility that BRFs are stimulus artifacts, a shuffle procedure, in which multiple repetitions of random sequences were presented, verifies the neural origin of BRFs. BRFs emerge from specific neural pathways and are not simply a consequence of unicellular response preferences. 5. Five measures were derived from the reverse correlation analysis of simple-cell receptive fields: width, duration, optimal spatial and temporal frequency, and optimal velocity.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cats
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Geniculate Bodies / cytology
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology
  • Microelectrodes
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Vision, Monocular / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / cytology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology