Repetitive optical stimulation elicits fast receptive field changes in mature visual cortex

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FAST associative cellular plasticity of visual cortical cells has been shown in vitro with electrical stimulation as well as in vivo by pairing of natural stimuli with artificial depolarization. Here we experimentally changed receptive field properties of single cells in the mature cat visual cortex with purely natural associative stimulation in vivo. Single cortical cells expanded their receptive fields within minutes into unresponsive regions and changed their functional receptive field structure for hours after associative co-stimulation of active and primarily unresponsive regions. The effects are interpreted as strengthening of subthreshold synaptic inputs. Repetitive stimulation with the same visual pattern can modify single cell properties in vivo within minutes and may be related to preattentive fast perceptual learning.

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