Horizontal Propagation of Visual Activity in the Synaptic Integration Field of Area 17 Neurons

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Science  29 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5402, pp. 695-699
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5402.695

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The receptive field of a visual neuron is classically defined as the region of space (or retina) where a visual stimulus evokes a change in its firing activity. At the cortical level, a challenging issue concerns the roles of feedforward, local recurrent, intracortical, and cortico-cortical feedback connectivity in receptive field properties. Intracellular recordings in cat area 17 showed that the visually evoked synaptic integration field extends over a much larger area than that established on the basis of spike activity. Synaptic depolarizing responses to stimuli flashed at increasing distances from the center of the receptive field decreased in strength, whereas their onset latency increased. These findings suggest that subthreshold responses in the unresponsive region surrounding the classical discharge field result from the integration of visual activation waves spread by slowly conducting horizontal axons within primary visual cortex.

  • * Present address: Neurobiology Division, Medical Research Council LMB, 2 Hills Road, Cambridge CB22QH, UK.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: yves.fregnac{at}

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