The spatial structure of a nonlinear receptive field

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Nature Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 14.98). 09/2012; 15(11):1572-1580. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3225

ABSTRACT Understanding a sensory system implies the ability to predict responses to a variety of inputs from a common model. In the retina, this includes predicting how the integration of signals across visual space shapes the outputs of retinal ganglion cells. Existing models of this process generalize poorly to predict responses to new stimuli. This failure arises in part from properties of the ganglion cell response that are not well captured by standard receptive-field mapping techniques: nonlinear spatial integration and fine-scale heterogeneities in spatial sampling. Here we characterize a ganglion cell's spatial receptive field using a mechanistic model based on measurements of the physiological properties and connectivity of only the primary excitatory circuitry of the retina. The resulting simplified circuit model successfully predicts ganglion-cell responses to a variety of spatial patterns and thus provides a direct correspondence between circuit connectivity and retinal output.

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    ABSTRACT: The visual response to spatial frequency (SF), a characteristic of spatial structure across position in space, is of particular importance for animal survival. A natural challenge for rodents is to detect predators as early as possible while foraging. Whether neurons in mouse primary visual cortex (V1) are functionally organized to meet this challenge remains unclear. Combining intrinsic signal optical imaging and single-unit recording, we found that the cutoff SF was much greater for neurons whose receptive fields were located above the mouse. Specifically, we discovered that the cutoff SF increased in a gradient that was positively correlated with the elevation in the visual field. This organization was present at eye opening and persisted through adulthood. Dark rearing delayed the maturation of the cutoff SF globally, but had little impact on the topographical organization of the cutoff SF, suggesting that this regional distribution is innately determined. This form of cortical organization of different SFs may benefit the mouse for detection of airborne threats in the natural environment.
    Scientific reports. 01/2015; 5:7734.


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