If striate cells had the receptive-field (RF) shapes classically attributed to them, their preferred spatial frequencies would vary considerably with orientation. Other models of RF shape would predict a greater independence between orientation and spatial-frequency tuning. We have examined this by recording the responses of cat striate-cortex cells to a wide range of different spatial-frequency and orientation combinations. In almost all cells studied, peak orientation did not consistently vary with spatial frequency, but the majority of cells showed some change in peak spatial-frequency tuning with orientation. The amount of change in peak spatial frequency tended to be greater for cells that were narrowly tuned for orientation. However, cells narrowly (and also very broadly) tuned for spatial frequency tended to show considerable independence of spatial-frequency and orientation tuning, and in all but a few cells the degree of change was less than predicted by the classic RF model. Such cells were found to fire only to patterns whose local spatial spectra fell within a compact, restricted, roughly circular two-dimensional spatial-frequency region. We conclude that the two-dimensional RF shape of striate cells more closely approximates that predicted by a two-dimensional Gabor model or by a Gaussian-derivative model than it does the classic shape based on the output of geniculate cells with aligned RF’s.
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