Presumed Inhibitory Neurons in the Macaque Inferior Temporal Cortex: Visual Response Properties and Functional Interactions With Adjacent Neurons


<jats:p> Neurons in area TE of the monkey inferior temporal cortex respond selectively to images of particular objects or their characteristic visual features. The mechanism of generation of the stimulus selectivity, however, is largely unknown. This study addresses the role of inhibitory TE neurons in this process by examining their visual response properties and interactions with adjacent target neurons. We applied cross-correlation analysis to spike trains simultaneously recorded from pairs of adjacent neurons in anesthetized macaques. Neurons whose activity preceded a decrease in activity from their partner were presumed to be inhibitory neurons. Excitatory neurons were also identified as the source neuron of excitatory linkage as evidenced by a sharp peak displaced from the 0-ms bin in cross-correlograms. Most inhibitory neurons responded to a variety of visual stimuli in our stimulus set, which consisted of several dozen geometrical figures and photographs of objects, with a clear stimulus preference. On average, 10% of the stimuli increased firing rates of the inhibitory neurons. Both excitatory and inhibitory neurons exhibited a similar degree of stimulus selectivity. Although inhibitory neurons occasionally shared the most preferred stimuli with their target neurons, overall stimulus preferences were less similar between adjacent neurons with inhibitory linkages than adjacent neurons with common inputs and/or excitatory linkages. These results suggest that inhibitory neurons in area TE are activated selectively and exert stimulus-specific inhibition on adjacent neurons, contributing to shaping of stimulus selectivity of TE neurons. </jats:p>


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