Contrast Gain Control in the Kitten's Visual System

Citation Info

Gary Sclar, Izumi Ohzawa, and Ralph D. Freeman (1985a)
Contrast gain control in the kitten's visual system.
J. Neurophysiol. 54: 668-675.
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We have studied the effects of contrast adaptation on cortical cells from 4- and 6-wk-old kittens (49 and 47 cells, respectively) using sine-wave grating stimuli. We wished to know if the effects of adaptation to different contrast levels are more extensive than those in adult animals. Our experiments involved adapting cells to different contrasts (3.1, 12.5, and 50%) while concurrently measuring their contrast-response functions at each of these different levels. We found qualitatively that the effects of adaptation in the kitten are similar to those we have previously documented in adult animals (19). Contrast-response functions are laterally shifted along the log-contrast axis, effectively matching the response range of the cells to prevailing contrast levels. The degree to which this occurred varied from cell to cell. The average degree to which cells showed these effects, as assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively, was greater for kittens than for adult cats, and greater for 4-wk-old kittens than for those aged 6 wk. This suggests that susceptibility to adaptation varies as a function of age. Additional studies were undertaken with the intent of localizing these adaptive effects. First, lateral geniculate cells and fibers (n = 23) were studied with our standard protocol, and second, we investigated the degree to which the effects of adaptation of cortical cells transferred interocularly. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)