Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 170, Issue 3, pp 317–325

Configurational pattern discrimination responsible for dishabituation in common toads Bufo bufo (L.): Behavioral tests of the predictions of a neural model

  • DeLiang Wang
  • Jörg-Peter Ewert

DOI: 10.1007/BF00191420

Cite this article as:
Wang, D. & Ewert, JP. J Comp Physiol A (1992) 170: 317. doi:10.1007/BF00191420


Recently, a neural model of visual pattern discrimination for stimulus-specific habituation was developed, based on previous behavioral studies which demonstrated that toads exhibit a dishabituation hierarchy for different worm-like stimuli. The model suggests that visual objects are represented by temporal coding and predicts that the dishabituation hierarchy changes when the stimulus/background contrast direction is reversed or the stimulus size is varied. The behavioral experiments reported in this paper were designed to test these predictions, (1) For a pair of stimuli from the contrast reversal prediction, the experimental results validated the theory. (2) For a pair of stimuli from the size reduction prediction, the experimental results failed to validate the theory. Further experiments concerning size effects suggest that configurai visual pattern discrimination in toads exhibits size invariance. (3) Inspired by the Groves-Thompson account of habituation, we found that dishabituation by a second stimulus has a separate process from habituation to a first stimulus. This paper serves as an example of a fruitful dialogue between experimentation and modeling, crucial for understanding brain functions.

Key words

Habituation Model testing Visual pattern recognition Non-associative learning Toad 



worm-like stimulus patterns


anterior thalamus


excitatory receptive field


inhibitory receptive field


receptive field

R2 to R4

retinal ganglion cell types


posterior ventromedial pallium


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • DeLiang Wang
    • 1
  • Jörg-Peter Ewert
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Neural EngineeringUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Abteilung NeurobiologieUniversität KasselKasselGermany

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