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A linear model for symmetric receptive fields: Implications for classification tests with flashed and moving images

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of spatial and temporal properties on the expected responses of visual neurons that have linear receptive fields (RFs), particularly those having a mirror symmetric distribution of spatial subregions. Receptive fields that are symmetric in at least one spatial dimension occur in neurons of the retina, the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), and the visual cortex of mammals. Responses to flashing bars, moving bars, and moving edges were studied for different configurations of an analog RF model in which spatial and temporal aspects were varied independently. Responses of the model at intermediate stimulus speeds were found to agree with responses in the literature for X and Y units of the LGN and often for simple units of the visual cortex. In particular, having separated regions of response to light and dark edges, an identifying property of simple cells, was found to be a linear consequence of RF regions responding inversely to stimuli of opposite polarity. Model differences from responses of cortical complex units show that a linear model cannot mimic their responses, and imply that complex units employ major nonlinearities in coding image polarity (light vs dark), which signifies a nonlinearity in coding intensity. Because sudden flux changes inherent in flashing bars test mainly temporal RF properties, and slowly moving edges test mainly spatial properties, these two tests form a useful minimal set with which to describe and classify RFs. The usefulness of this set derives both from its sensitivity to spatial and temporal variables, and from the correlation between the linearity of a cell's processing of stimulus intensity and its RF classification.

Affiliations: 1: Center for Visual Science, and Department of Ophthalmology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA


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