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Visual Orientation and Directional Selectivity Through Thalamic Synchrony




Thalamic neurons respond to visual scenes by generating synchronous spike trains on the timescale of 10–20 ms that are very effective at driving cortical targets. Here we demonstrate that this synchronous activity contains unexpectedly rich information about fundamental properties of visual stimuli. We report that the occurrence of synchronous firing of cat thalamic cells with highly overlapping receptive fields is strongly sensitive to the orientation and the direction of motion of the visual stimulus. We show that this stimulus selectivity is robust, remaining relatively unchanged under different contrasts and temporal frequencies (stimulus velocities). A computational analysis based on an integrate-and-fire model of the direct thalamic input to a layer 4 cortical cell reveals a strong correlation between the degree of thalamic synchrony and the nonlinear relationship between cortical membrane potential and the resultant firing rate. Together, these findings suggest a novel population code in the synchronous firing of neurons in the early visual pathway that could serve as the substrate for establishing cortical representations of the visual scene.

Author(s): Garrett Stanley and Jianzhong Jin and Yushi Wang and Gaelle Desbordes and Qi Wang and Michael Black and Jose-Manuel Alonso
Journal: Journal of Neuroscience
Volume: 32
Number (issue): 26
Pages: 9073-9088
Year: 2012
Month: June

Department(s): Perzeptive Systeme
Research Project(s): Optical flow in the LGN
Bibtex Type: Article (article)
Paper Type: Journal

Links: preprint
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  title = {Visual Orientation and Directional Selectivity Through Thalamic Synchrony},
  author = {Stanley, Garrett and Jin, Jianzhong and Wang, Yushi and Desbordes, Gaelle and Wang, Qi and Black, Michael and Alonso, Jose-Manuel},
  journal = {Journal of Neuroscience},
  volume = {32},
  number = {26},
  pages = {9073-9088},
  month = jun,
  year = {2012},
  month_numeric = {6}