Article Summary

Title : Synaptic integration fields and associative plasticity of visual cortical cells in vivo
Authors : Yves Frégnac, Vincent Bringuier and Frédéric Chavane
Year : 1996
Journal : J Physiol Paris
Volume : 90
Pages : 367-72


Two major constraints in connectivity decide the spatial extent of visual cortical receptive fields, both during development and adult functioning: 1) feedforward input, extrinsic to visual cortex, is organized in an orderly projection to form a point-to-point mapping of the retina onto the cortical mantle and constitutes the core of the minimal discharge field (MDF) after amplification by local intracortical circuits; and 2) a second type of connectivity consists of long distance horizontal intracortical connections which are thought to favor the binding of local visual operations occurring simultaneously in different parts of the visual field. We review here possible factors, intrinsic to the considered cortical cell, that may control the effectiveness of post-synaptic integration. Their expression during sensory recognition could depend on the spatio-temporal distribution of active inputs onto the target cell dendrite and on their interplay with non-linearities of the membrane properties. On the basis of intracellular recordings in cat area, 17, we have observed that peripheral responses (excitatory and inhibitory) could be boosted by coincident postsynaptic depolarization. This effect is lost if the response and the postsynaptic depolarization are mismatched by 1,000 ms, suggesting that temporal correlation of central and peripheral responses could regulate in a non-linear manner the gain of center-surround interactions. This temporal selectivity is compatible with up-regulation of composite potentials by the transient voltage-dependent activation of slowly inactivating conductances in visual cortical neurons. A direct consequence of these different considerations is that the receptive field (RF) of neurons in visual pathways should not be considered as a static hardwired window probing the outer environment, but as an active filter which may continuously adapt and be updated as a function of global context and past experience.