Effect of ambient illumination on the spatial properties of the center and surround of Y-cell receptive fields

Vis Neurosci. Jul-Aug 1993;10(4):753-64. doi: 10.1017/s0952523800005447.


The primary goal of this study was to expand the description of the filtering properties of the Y-cell receptive field, by quantitatively characterizing the spatial filtering properties of the receptive field's center-and-surround components as a function of adapting light level. A range of more than five orders of magnitude in retinal illuminance were covered, including the vast majority of the cat's functional range of vision. Recordings were taken from optic tract fibers of Y cells in cats under general anesthesia. Sinusoidal gratings and a stimulus designed to selectively probe the properties of the surround mechanism were used. The cells' responses to these stimuli were fit to a Gaussian center-surround receptive-field model, in which six parameters define the properties of the center and surround. Fits were made independently to data collected at each light level and changes in the values of the model's parameters with illuminance are reported. A set of equations that summarize the changes in parameter values is given. From these summary equations, reasonable estimates of the parameters' values can be determined across a wide range of illuminances. Hence, a quantitative model of the spatial properties of the center and surround of the Y-cell receptive field can now be derived from these equations for most of the levels of retinal illuminance experienced by a Y cell. The consistency between the description provided by our equations and results from earlier work is considered.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Light*
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Normal Distribution
  • Optic Nerve / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Visual Fields / physiology*