, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 327-349

Maps of Surface Distributions of Electrical Activity in Spectrally Derived Receptive Fields of the Rat's Somatosensory Cortex

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Abstract

This study describes the results of experiments motivated by an attempt to understand spectral processing in the cerebral cortex (DeValois and DeValois, 1988; Pribram, 1971, 1991). This level of inquiry concerns processing within a restricted cortical area rather than that by which spatially separate circuits become synchronized during certain behavioral and experiential processes. We recorded neural responses for 55 locations in the somatosensory (barrel) cortex of the rat to various combinations of spatial frequency (texture) and temporal frequency stimulation of their vibrissae. The recordings obtained from single and multi-unit bursts of spikes were mapped as surface distributions of local dendritic potentials. The distributions showed a variety of patterns that are asymmetric with respect to the spatial and temporal parameters of stimulation, and were, therefore, not simply reflecting whisker flick rate. Next, a simulation of our results showed that these surface distributions of local dendritic potentials can be described by Gabor-like functions much as in the visual system. The results provide support for a model of distributed cortical processing that imposes a physiologically derived frame (the limited extent of a dendritic patch) and an anatomically derived (axonal) sampling of the distributed process. This combination provides a complex Gabor wavelet that encodes phase, which is necessary to processing such details as edges and texture in a scene. The synchronization across cortical areas that make the Gabor wavelet processes within restricted cortical areas available to one another (the binding problem) proceed at a ''higher order'' level of integration. Both levels of distributed processing accomplish computation in the conjoint spacetime and spectral domain.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.