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How to unconfound the directional and orientational information in visual neuron's response

Abstract

When drifting bars or gratings are used as visual stimuli, information about orientation specificity (which has a period of 180°) and direction specificity (which has a period of 360°) is inherently confounded in the response of visual cortical neurons, which have long been known to be selective for both the orientation of the stimulus and the direction of its movement. It is essential to “unconfound” or separate these two components of the response as they may respectively contribute to form and motion perception, two of the main streams of information processing in the mammalian brain. Wörgötter and Eysel (1987) recently proposed the Fourier transform technique as a method of unconfounding the two components, but their analysis was incomplete. Here we formally develop the mathematical tools for this method to calculate the peak angles, bandwidths, and relative strengths, the three most important elements of a tuning curve, of both the orientational and the directional components, based on the experimentally-recorded neuron's response polar-plot. It will be shown that, in the 1-D Fourier decomposition of the polar-plot along its angular dimension, (1) the odd harmonics contain only the directional component, while the even harmonics are contributed to by both the orientational and the directional components; (2) the phases and the amplitudes of all the harmonics are related, respectively, to the peak angle and the bandwidth of the individual component. The basic assumption used here is that the two components are linearly additive; this in turn is immediately testable by the method itself.

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Abbreviations

δ(x) :

delta impulse function (20)

η 0,η k :

coefficients of Fourier expansion of response polar-plot (15)

ζ k :

coefficients of Fourier expansion of response polar-plot (15)

λ d :

peak strength of the directional component (20)

λ o :

peak strength of the orientational component (25)

θ db :

half-bandwidth of the directional component (20)

θ dp :

peak angle of the directional component (8)

θ (k) dp :

value ofθ dp computed from thek-th harmonic (36)

θ ob :

half-bandwidth of the orientational component (25)

θ op :

peak angle of the orientational component (9)

a 0,a k :

coefficients of Fourier expansion of directional component (4)

d k :

coefficients of Fourier expansion of directional component (4)

b 0,b k :

coefficients of Fourier expansion of orientational component (10)

D(θ) :

directional component of the cell's response (2)

O(θ) :

orientational component of the cell's response (2)

R(θ) :

the cell's overall visual response (1)

R(O, D) :

same asR(θ), merely denoting the fact thatR(θ) is composed ofO(θ) andD(θ) (1)

Z :

index of linear additivity of the two omponents (35)

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Zhang, J. How to unconfound the directional and orientational information in visual neuron's response. Biol. Cybern. 63, 135–142 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00203036

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Keywords

  • Visual Stimulus
  • Cortical Neuron
  • Basic Assumption
  • Relative Strength
  • Main Stream