Recent models have attempted to reconcile low psychophysical orientation and spatial-frequency discrimination thresholds with relatively broad orientation and spatial-frequency tuning of cortical neurons. These models have relied on the ability of the neurons to convert small stimulus changes into reliable response changes. We have examined this ability in a sample of neurons from the cat’s striate cortex. We present here data from two cells that reliably signaled the smallest orientation and spatial-frequency differences. Using receiver operating characteristic analysis, we find that these cells could reliably signal orientation differences of 1.84 deg and spatial-frequency differences of 0.073 octave. We compare these single-cell results to cat and human behavioral discrimination thresholds.
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