Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Receptive Fields

  • Jean VettelEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1396


Response properties; Response selectivity


A cell’s receptive field is the region of space that causes the cell to either increase or decrease its discharge rate. The receptive field may also be selective for the particular type of stimulus within the region of space.

Historical Background

Although two scientists, Stephen Kuffler and Horace Barlow, independently began studying the receptive fields of ganglion cells in the retina in 1953, the most successful mapping of receptive fields was conducted by Hubel and Wiesel (1959). Interestingly, the success resulted from an accidental finding. They were trying to find selective neural responses in primary visual cortex by moving around a dark spot on a rectangular slide. The neuron would sometimes increase its discharge rate, but it took them a while to realize that it was not caused by the dot; instead, it was the edge of the slide moving in a particular direction. With this insight, they went on to discover a columnar...

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References and Readings

  1. Atencio, C. A., Sharpee, T. O., & Schreiner, C. E. (2008). Cooperative nonlinearities in auditory cortical neurons. Neuron, 58(6), 956–966.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bear, M. F., Connors, B. W., & Paradiso, M. A. (Eds.). (2007). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain (3rd ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Chap. 9, 10, 11.Google Scholar
  3. Hubel’s eye, brain, and vision book online. Retrieved from http://hubel.med.harvard.edu/index.html
  4. Palmer, S. E. (2002). Vision science: Photons to phenomenology. MIT Press. Chap. 4.Google Scholar
  5. Purves, D., Augustine, G. J., Fitzpatrick, D., Katz, L. C., LaMantia, A., McNamara, J. O., et al. (2001). Neuroscience (2nd ed.). Sinauer Associates. Chap. 9, 11, 13.Google Scholar
  6. Sheinberg, D. L. (2008). “Neural Systems” – Neuroscience 1030 course notes. Providence: Brown University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US Army Research LaboratoryNational Academy of the SciencesWashington, DCUSA