Responses of a visual neuron to optimally oriented stimuli can be suppressed by a superposition of another grating with a different orientation. This effect is known as cross-orientation suppression. However, it is still not clear whether the effect is intracortical in origin or a reflection of subcortical processes. To address this issue, we measured spatiotemporal responses to a plaid pattern, a superposition of two gratings, as well as to individual component gratings (optimal and mask) using a subspace reverse-correlation method. Suppression for the plaid was evaluated by comparing the response to that for the optimal grating. For component stimuli, excitatory and negative responses were defined as responses more positive and negative, respectively, than that to a blank stimulus. The suppressive effect for plaids was observed in the vast majority of neurons. However, only ∼30% of neurons showed the negative response to mask-only gratings. The magnitudes of negative responses to mask-only stimuli were correlated with the degree of suppression for plaid stimuli. Comparing the latencies, we found that the suppression for the plaids starts at about the same time or slightly later than the response onset for the optimal grating and reaches its maximum at about the same time as the peak latency for the mask-only grating. Based on these results, we propose that in addition to the suppressive effect originating at the subcortical stage, delayed suppressive signals derived from the intracortical networks act on the neuron to generate cross-orientation suppression.
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