Competitive mechanisms subserve attention in macaque areas V2 and V4.
It is well established that attention modulates visual processing in extrastriate cortex. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are unknown. A consistent observation is that attention has its greatest impact on neuronal responses when multiple stimuli appear together within a cell's receptive field. One way to explain this is to assume that multiple stimuli activate competing populations of neurons and that attention biases this competition in favor of the attended stimulus. In the absence of competing stimuli, there is no competition to be resolved. Accordingly, attention has a more limited effect on the neuronal response to a single stimulus. To test this interpretation, we measured the responses of neurons in macaque areas V2 and V4 using a behavioral paradigm that allowed us to isolate automatic sensory processing mechanisms from attentional effects. First, we measured each cell's response to a single stimulus presented alone inside the receptive field or paired with a second receptive field stimulus, while the monkey attended to a location outside the receptive field. Adding the second stimulus typically caused the neuron's response to move toward the response that was elicited by the second stimulus alone. Then, we directed the monkey's attention to one element of the pair. This drove the neuron's response toward the response elicited when the attended stimulus appeared alone. These findings are consistent with the idea that attention biases competitive interactions among neurons, causing them to respond primarily to the attended stimulus. A quantitative neural model of attention is proposed to account for these results. (+info)
The neuronal basis of a sensory analyser, the acridid movement detector system. I. Effects of simple incremental and decremental stimuli in light and dark adapted animals.
1. The response of the movement detector (MD) system to proportionally constant incremental and decremental stimuli has been studied at various degrees of light and dark adaptation. Action potentials in the descending contralateral movement detector neurone were taken as the indicator of response. 2. Over a range of at least six log10 units of adapting luminance, the MD system behaves as an ON/OFF unit, giving responses to both incremental and decremental changes in the illumination of a 5 degrees target. 3. With increasing amplitudes of stimuli, both the ON and OFF responses saturate rapidly. Saturation is reached sooner at higher levels of light adaptation. At all levels of light adaptation, the OFF response is greater than the ON. The ratio for saturating stimuli is approximately constant at around 3:2. 4. At the brightest adapting luminances used (20 000 cd/m2) the ON response is reduced but not lost. At the lowest (0-004 cd/m2) the OFF response to a 5 degrees disc fails, but can be regained by increasing the test area to 10 degrees. 5. From what is known of the retina of locusts and other insects, it is thought that light and dark adaptation in the MD system can be adequately explained by events at the retinula cell. (+info)
MST neuronal responses to heading direction during pursuit eye movements.
As you move through the environment, you see a radial pattern of visual motion with a focus of expansion (FOE) that indicates your heading direction. When self-movement is combined with smooth pursuit eye movements, the turning of the eye distorts the retinal image of the FOE but somehow you still can perceive heading. We studied neurons in the medial superior temporal area (MST) of monkey visual cortex, recording responses to FOE stimuli presented during fixation and smooth pursuit eye movements. Almost all neurons showed significant changes in their FOE selective responses during pursuit eye movements. However, the vector average of all the neuronal responses indicated the direction of the FOE during both fixation and pursuit. Furthermore, the amplitude of the net vector increased with increasing FOE eccentricity. We conclude that neuronal population encoding in MST might contribute to pursuit-tolerant heading perception. (+info)
Eye movement deficits following ibotenic acid lesions of the nucleus prepositus hypoglossi in monkeys II. Pursuit, vestibular, and optokinetic responses.
The eyes are moved by a combination of neural commands that code eye velocity and eye position. The eye position signal is supposed to be derived from velocity-coded command signals by mathematical integration via a single oculomotor neural integrator. For horizontal eye movements, the neural integrator is thought to reside in the rostral nucleus prepositus hypoglossi (nph) and project directly to the abducens nuclei. In a previous study, permanent, serial ibotenic acid lesions of the nph in three rhesus macaques compromised the neural integrator for fixation but saccades were not affected. In the present study, to determine further whether the nph is the neural substrate for a single oculomotor neural integrator, the effects of those lesions on smooth pursuit, the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), vestibular nystagmus (VN), and optokinetic nystagmus (OKN) are documented. The lesions were correlated with long-lasting deficits in eye movements, indicated most clearly by the animals' inability to maintain steady gaze in the dark. However, smooth pursuit and sinusoidal VOR in the dark, like the saccades in the previous study, were affected minimally. The gain of horizontal smooth pursuit (eye movement/target movement) decreased slightly (<25%) and phase lead increased slightly for all frequencies (0.3-1.0 Hz, +/-10 degrees target tracking), most noticeably for higher frequencies (0.8-0.7 and approximately 20 degrees for 1.0-Hz tracking). Vertical smooth pursuit was not affected significantly. Surprisingly, horizontal sinusoidal VOR gain and phase also were not affected significantly. Lesions had complex effects on both VN and OKN. The plateau of per- and postrotatory VN was shortened substantially ( approximately 50%), whereas the initial response and the time constant of decay decreased slightly. The initial OKN response also decreased slightly, and the charging phase was prolonged transiently then recovered to below normal levels like the VN time constant. Maximum steady-state, slow eye velocity of OKN decreased progressively by approximately 30% over the course of the lesions. These results support the previous conclusion that the oculomotor neural integrator is not a single neural entity and that the mathematical integrative function for different oculomotor subsystems is most likely distributed among a number of nuclei. They also show that the nph apparently is not involved in integrating smooth pursuit signals and that lesions of the nph can fractionate the VOR and nystagmic responses to adequate stimuli. (+info)
Light-induced calcium influx into retinal axons is regulated by presynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptor activity in vivo.
Visual activity is thought to be a critical factor in controlling the development of central retinal projections. Neuronal activity increases cytosolic calcium, which was hypothesized to regulate process outgrowth in neurons. We performed an in vivo imaging study in the retinotectal system of albino Xenopus laevis tadpoles with the fluorescent calcium indicator calcium green 1 dextran (CaGD) to test the role of calcium in regulating axon arbor development. We find that visual stimulus to the retina increased CaGD fluorescence intensity in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axon arbors within the optic tectum and that branch additions to retinotectal axon arbors correlated with a local rise in calcium in the parent branch. We find three types of responses to visual stimulus, which roughly correlate with the ON, OFF, and SUSTAINED response types of RGC reported by physiological criteria. Imaging in bandscan mode indicated that patterns of calcium transients were nonuniform throughout the axons. We tested whether the increase in calcium in the retinotectal axons required synaptic activity in the retina; intraocular application of tetrodotoxin (10 microM) or nifedipine (1 and 10 microM) blocked the stimulus-induced increase in RGC axonal fluorescence. A second series of pharmacological investigations was designed to determine the mechanism of the calcium elevation in the axon terminals within the optic tectum. Injection of bis-(o-aminophenoxy)-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid-AM (BAPTA-AM) (20 mM) into the tectal ventricle reduced axonal calcium levels, supporting the idea that visual stimulation increases axonal calcium. Injection of BAPTA (20 mM) into the tectal ventricle to chelate extracellular calcium also attenuated the calcium response to visual stimulation, indicating that calcium enters the axon from the extracellular medium. Caffeine (10 mM) caused a large increase in axonal calcium, indicating that intracellular stores contribute to the calcium signal. Presynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) may play a role in axon arbor development and the formation of the topographic retinotectal projection. Injection of nicotine (10 microM) into the tectal ventricle significantly elevated RGC axonal calcium levels, whereas application of the nAChR antagonist alphaBTX (100 nM) reduced the stimulus-evoked rise in RGC calcium fluorescence. These data suggest that light stimulus to the retina increases calcium in the axon terminal arbors through a mechanism that includes influx through nAChRs and amplification by calcium-induced calcium release from intracellular calcium stores. Such a mechanism may contribute to developmental plasticity of the retinotectal system by influencing both axon arbor elaboration and the strength of synaptic transmission. (+info)
Correlated firing in rabbit retinal ganglion cells.
A ganglion cell's receptive field is defined as that region on the retinal surface in which a light stimulus will produce a response. While neighboring ganglion cells may respond to the same stimulus in a region where their receptive fields overlap, it generally has been assumed that each cell makes an independent decision about whether to fire. Recent recordings from cat and salamander retina using multiple electrodes have challenged this view of independent firing by showing that neighboring ganglion cells have an increased tendency to fire together within +/-5 ms. However, there is still uncertainty about which types of ganglion cells fire together, the mechanisms that produce coordinated spikes, and the overall function of coordinated firing. To address these issues, the responses of up to 80 rabbit retinal ganglion cells were recorded simultaneously using a multielectrode array. Of the 11 classes of rabbit ganglion cells previously identified, coordinated firing was observed in five. Plots of the spike train cross-correlation function suggested that coordinated firing occurred through two mechanisms. In the first mechanism, a spike in an interneuron diverged to produce simultaneous spikes in two ganglion cells. This mechanism predominated in four of the five classes including the ON brisk transient cells. In the second mechanism, ganglion cells appeared to activate each other reciprocally. This was the predominant pattern of correlated firing in OFF brisk transient cells. By comparing the receptive field profiles of ON and OFF brisk transient cells, a peripheral extension of the OFF brisk transient cell receptive field was identified that might be produced by lateral spike spread. Thus an individual OFF brisk transient cell can respond both to a light stimulus directed at the center of its receptive field and to stimuli that activate neighboring OFF brisk transient cells through their receptive field centers. (+info)
Evidence for an eye-centered spherical representation of the visuomotor map.
During visually guided movement, visual coordinates of target location must be transformed into coordinates appropriate for movement. To investigate the representation of this visuomotor coordinate transformation, we examined changes in pointing behavior induced by a local visuomotor remapping. The visual feedback of finger position was limited to one location within the workspace, at which a discrepancy was introduced between the actual and visually perceived finger position. This remapping induced a change in pointing that extended over the entire workspace and was best captured by a spherical coordinate system centered near the eyes. (+info)
Visuomotor processing as reflected in the directional discharge of premotor and primary motor cortex neurons.
Premotor and primary motor cortical neuronal firing was studied in two monkeys during an instructed delay, pursuit tracking task. The task included a premovement "cue period," during which the target was presented at the periphery of the workspace and moved to the center of the workspace along one of eight directions at one of four constant speeds. The "track period" consisted of a visually guided, error-constrained arm movement during which the animal tracked the target as it moved from the central start box along a line to the opposite periphery of the workspace. Behaviorally, the animals tracked the required directions and speeds with highly constrained trajectories. The eye movements consisted of saccades to the target at the onset of the cue period, followed by smooth pursuit intermingled with saccades throughout the cue and track periods. Initially, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for direction and period effects in the firing. Subsequently, a linear regression analysis was used to fit the average firing from the cue and track periods to a cosine model. Directional tuning as determined by a significant fit to the cosine model was a prominent feature of the discharge during both the cue and track periods. However, the directional tuning of the firing of a single cell was not always constant across the cue and track periods. Approximately one-half of the neurons had differences in their preferred directions (PDs) of >45 degrees between cue and track periods. The PD in the cue or track period was not dependent on the target speed. A second linear regression analysis based on calculation of the preferred direction in 20-ms bins (i.e., the PD trajectory) was used to examine on a finer time scale the temporal evolution of this change in directional tuning. The PD trajectories in the cue period were not straight but instead rotated over the workspace to align with the track period PD. Both clockwise and counterclockwise rotations occurred. The PD trajectories were relatively straight during most of the track period. The rotation and eventual convergence of the PD trajectories in the cue period to the preferred direction of the track period may reflect the transformation of visual information into motor commands. The widely dispersed PD trajectories in the cue period would allow targets to be detected over a wide spatial aperture. The convergence of the PD trajectories occurring at the cue-track transition may serve as a "Go" signal to move that was not explicitly supplied by the paradigm. Furthermore, the rotation and convergence of the PD trajectories may provide a mechanism for nonstandard mapping. Standard mapping refers to a sensorimotor transformation in which the stimulus is the object of the reach. Nonstandard mapping is the mapping of an arbitrary stimulus into an arbitrary movement. The shifts in the PD may allow relevant visual information from any direction to be transformed into an appropriate movement direction, providing a neural substrate for nonstandard stimulus-response mappings. (+info)