Multiplicative Mechanism of Lateral Interactions Revealed by Controlling Interhemispheric Input

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Long-range horizontal connections are thought to modulate the responsiveness of neurons by supplying contextual information. A special type of long-range connections are interhemispheric projections, linking the 2 cerebral hemispheres. To investigate the action of those projections in a causal approach, we recorded in cat primary visual cortex while deactivating corresponding regions on the contralateral hemisphere. Interestingly, the action of callosal projections turned out to depend on the local and global composition of the stimulus: Full-field stimulation with gratings revealed moderate rate decreases (modulation index −0.24) and some significant increases (+0.21), whereas with lesser salient random dot textures, much more neurons were affected and reacted with pronounced rate decreases (−0.4). However, orientation and direction selectivity of those neurons were only slightly influenced by callosal input. This invariance could be achieved by scaling responses multiplicatively. Indeed, we could quantify the action of callosal input as a multiplicative scaling of responses, but additive scaling also occurred, especially for grating stimulation. We conclude that the quantitative action of long-range horizontal connections is by no means fixed but depends on how the network is driven by an external stimulus. Qualitatively, those connections seem to adjust the response gain of neurons, thereby preserving their selectivity.

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