Relationships between horizontal interactions and functional architecture in cat striate cortex as revealed by cross-correlation analysis

Abstract

<jats:p>Anatomical studies in the visual cortex have shown the presence of long- range horizontal connections with clustered axonal collaterals, suggesting interactions over distances of several millimeters. We used cross-correlation analysis in cat striate cortex to detect interactions between cells over comparable distances. Using one cell as a reference, we recorded from other cells with a second electrode at varying distances and looked for correlated firing between the two recording sites. This technique allowed us to combine a physiological measure of the strength and type of connection between cells with a characterization of their receptive field properties. The observed interactions were excitatory, and extended over horizontal distances of several millimeters. Furthermore, the interactions were between orientation columns of like specificity, resulting in a waxing and waning in the strength of interaction as the electrodes passed through different orientation columns. We studied relationships between strength of correlation and other receptive field properties and found a tendency for facilitatory interactions between cells sharing the same eye preference. A large proportion of our correlations was due to common input. This feature, and the similarity of interactions between cells in the same column with the reference cell, suggest a high degree of interconnectivity between and within the columns. As the distance between the two electrodes increased, the overlap of the receptive fields of the cells participating in the interactions gradually diminished. At the furthest distances recorded, the cell pairs had nonoverlapping receptive fields separated by several degrees. The distribution and range of these interactions corresponded to the clustering and extent of the horizontal connections observed anatomically.</jats:p>

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