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Article Summary

Title : An intracellular study of space and time representation in primary visual cortical receptive fields
Authors : Yves Frégnac, Vincent Bringuier, Frédéric Chavane, Larry Glaeser and Jean Lorenceau
Year : 1996
Journal : J Physiol Paris
Volume : 90
Pages : 189-97


In contrast with previous knowledge based on extracellular recordings, the recent development of intracellular techniques in vivo (sharp electrode or 'blind patch') ideally allows experimenters to analyze and dissect the contribution of feedforward and lateral connectivity in the functional expression of a synaptic 'integration field'. We will present recent data which demonstrate that the visual receptive field of cortical neurons described at the level of subthreshold synaptic events extends over much larger regions of the visual field than previously thought, and that the capacity of cells to amplify subthreshold responses depends on the immediate past history of their membrane potential. Our data suggest that visual cortical receptive fields should not be considered as a fixed entity but more as a dynamic field of integration and association. Two types of dynamics can be argued for: 1) the spatial structure of the minimal discharge field (defined by suprathreshold activation of the cell) can be profoundly reorganized at least during development and most probably during selective phases of learning under the control of activity-dependent mechanisms. Adaptive changes in visual responses are thought to reflect long-lasting potentiation and/or depression of synaptic efficacies conveying ON- and OFF-center information; and 2) during sensory processing, reconfiguration of synaptic weights may be achieved on a much faster time-scale and linked to nor-linear properties of the postsynaptic membrane as well as that of recruited networks. Association of information available in the central part of the receptive field (RF) and of input coming from the reputedly 'unresponsive' regions surrounding it, or arising simultaneously from different parts of the visual field, might be suppressive in certain cases and capable of boosting hidden responses in other cases, depending on the global stimulus configuration.