Functional micro-organization of primary visual cortex: Receptive field analysis of nearby neurons

Gregory C. DeAngelis, Geoffrey M. Ghose, Izumi Ohzawa, Ralph D. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


It is well established that multiple stimulus dimensions (e.g., orientation and spatial frequency) are mapped onto the surface of striate cortex. However, the detailed organization of neurons within a local region of striate cortex remains unclear. Within a vertical column, do all neurons have the same response selectivities? And if not, how do they most commonly differ and why? To address these questions, we recorded from nearby pairs of simple cells and made detailed spatiotemporal maps of their receptive fields. From these maps, we extracted and analyzed a variety of response metrics. Our results provide new insights into the local organization of striate cortex. First, we show that nearby neurons seldom have very similar receptive fields, when these fields are characterized in space and time. Thus, there may be less redundancy within a column than previously thought. Moreover, we show that correlated discharge increases with receptive field similarity; thus, the local dissimilarity between neurons may allow for noise reduction by response pooling. Second, we show that several response variables are clustered within striate cortex, including some that have not received much attention such as response latency and temporal frequency. We also demonstrate that other parameters are not clustered, including the spatial phase (or symmetry) of the receptive field. Third, we show that spatial phase is the single parameter that accounts for most of the difference between receptive fields of nearby neurons. We consider the implications of this local diversity of spatial phase for population coding and construction of higher-order receptive fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4046-4064
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 1999


  • Columnar organization
  • Correlation
  • Neuron
  • Phase coding
  • Receptive field
  • Reverse correlation
  • Visual cortex


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