Neuronal responses to orientation and motion contrast in cat striate cortex

Sabine Kastner, Hans Christoph Nothdurft, Ivan N. Pigarev

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61 Scopus citations


Responses of striate neurons to line textures were investigated in anesthetized and paralyzed adult cats. Light bars centered over the excitatory receptive field (RF) were presented with different texture surrounds composed of many similar bars. In two test series, responses of 169 neurons to textures with orientation contrast (surrounding bars orthogonal to the center bar) or motion contrast (surrounding bars moving opposite to the center bar) were compared to the responses to the corresponding uniform texture conditions (all lines parallel, coherent motion) and to the center bar alone. In the majority of neurons center bar responses were suppressed by the texture surrounds. Two main effects were found. Some neurons were generally suppressed by either texture surround. Other neurons were less suppressed by texture displaying orientation or motion (i.e. feature) contrast than by the respective uniform texture, so that their responses to orientation or motion contrast appeared to be relatively enhanced (preference for feature contrast). General suppression was obtained in 33% of neurons tested for orientation and in 19% of neurons tested for motion. Preference for orientation or motion contrast was obtained in 22% and 34% of the neurons, respectively, and was also seen in the mean response of the population. One hundred nineteen neurons were studied in both orientation and motion tests. General suppression was correlated across the orientation and motion dimension, but not preference for feature contrast. We also distinguished modulatory effects from end-zones and flanks using butterfly-configured texture patterns. Both regions contributed to the generally suppressive effects. Preference for orientation or motion contrast was not generated from either end-zones or flanks exclusively. Neurons with preference for feature contrast may form the physiological basis of the perceptual saliency of pop-out elements in line textures. If so, pop-out of motion and pop-out of orientation would be encoded in different pools of neurons at the level of striate cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-600
Number of pages14
JournalVisual Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology


  • Cat striate cortex
  • Classical receptive field
  • Contextual response modulation
  • Pop-out
  • Single-cell recordings


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