Neurons with surround suppression have been implicated in processing high-order visual features such as contrast- or texture-defined boundaries and subjective contours. However, little is known regarding how these neurons encode high-order visual information in a systematic manner as a population. To address this issue, we have measured detailed spatial structures of classical center and suppressive surround regions of receptive fields of primary visual cortex (V1) neurons and examined how a population of such neurons allow encoding of various high-order features and shapes in visual scenes. Using a novel method to reconstruct structures, we found that the center and surround regions are often both elongated parallel to each other, reminiscent of on and off subregions of simple cells without surround suppression. These structures allow V1 neurons to extract high-order contours of various orientations and spatial frequencies, with a variety of optimal values across neurons. The results show that a wide range of orientations and widths of the high-order features are systematically represented by the population of V1 neurons with surround suppression.
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