Spatial Infrastructure of Receptive Fields and Responses to Moving Stimuli of Visually Driven Neurons in the Cat Extrastriate Cortex

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The structure of receptive fields (RFs) of visually sensitive neurons has been shown in numerous studies to be the main and most important element for extraction of visual information from the environment [1–5]. Thus, the properties of visually driven neurons in both primary visual cortex and associative extrastriate cortical areas are, as a rule, chiefly determined by spatial and temporal constraints of the neuronal RFs. In our experiments, we tried to describe in detail the spatial infrastructure of neuronal RFs according to the activity profiles of neurons localized in area 21a of the cat cortex observed upon presentation of moving visual stimuli. Extracellular recordings of single-cell activity and the masking technique were used. We found that the RF spatial substructure in the majority of investigated neurons (61 %, n = 32) is composed of regions with different qualitative characteristics of response patterns to moving visual stimuli. Nearly 35 % (n = 12) of the investigated neurons revealed unresponsive subregions in the RF (mainly within bordering areas of the RF) when tested by small-amplitude movements of the stimuli. It is suggested that the existence of interactions among neighboring groups of neurons may play an important role in precise visual processing within extrastriate areas of the cortex.