Orientation-dependent Changes in Response Properties of Neurons in the Kitten’s Visual Cortex

  • J. P. Rauschecker
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 27)


Kittens were reared wearing goggles with cylindrical lenses, which restricted the visual experience of one eye to a very narrow range of orientations. The other eye was either occluded or allowed normal vision. Physiological changes caused by the selective exposure were assessed by means of single-cell recording from striate cortex.

In all cases the majority of neurons driven by the “cylinder eye” preferred the experienced orientation. When the second eye had been covered during the exposure, most units were dominated by the cylinder eye and had receptive field orientations in register with the orientation experienced by this eye. Neurons with other orientation preferences were shared between the two eyes.

When the second eye was allowed to view normally, the cylinder eye became strongly inferior. In this case many binocular cells were found, almost all of which preferred that orientation experienced by both eyes together. Neurons with other orientation preferences were dominated by the normal eye.

In a two-stage experiment, restricted vision of one eye (using the cylinder lens) followed normal experience of the other eye. Polar plots of preferred orientations for the two eyes show complementary distributions: the cylinder eye had selectively taken over neurons with corresponding receptive field orientations from the previously normal eye.

These experiments support the hypothesis that circuit changes in the visual cortex do not depend solely on asymmetries in the activation level of the afferents from the two eyes, but also on the response properties of the cortical target cells. Such a mechanism can account for both maintaining and specifying influences of visual experience on cortical response properties during early development.


Visual Experience Cylindrical Lens Polar Plot Striate Cortex Ocular Dominance 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Rauschecker
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für PsychiatrieMunichGermany

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