Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University


Supranormal orientation selectivity of visual neurons in orientation-restricted animals

Journal Sci Rep 5, 16712 (2015)
Authors Sasaki KS (1, 2), Kimura R (1, 3), Ninomiya T (1, 4), Tabuchi Y (1), Tanaka H (1, 5), Fukui M (1), Asada YC (1), Arai T (1), Inagaki M (1, 2), Nakazono T (1), Baba M (1, 6), Kato D (1), Nishimoto S (1, 2), Sanada TM (1, 6), Tani T (7, 8), Imamura K (7, 9), Tanaka S (7, 10), Ohzawa I (1, 2).

  1. Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience, Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, 1-4 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.

  2. Center for Information and Neural Networks, Osaka University and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, 1-4 Yamdaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
  3. Universität Tübingen, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.
  4. Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, 484-8506, Japan.
  5. Kyoto Sangyo University, Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8555, Japan.
  6. National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki, Aichi 444-8585, Japan.
  7. RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.
  8. Graduate School of Medicine, Hirosaki University, Aomori 036-8562, Japan.
  9. Department of Systems Life Engineering, Maebashi Institute of Technology, Gunma 371-0816, Japan.
  10. Brain Science Inspired Life Support Research Center, The University of Electro-Communications, Tokyo 182-8585, Japan.

Title Supranormal orientation selectivity of visual neurons in orientation-restricted animals
PubMed 26567927
Laboratory Visual Neuroscience Laboratory 〈Prof. Ohzawa〉

Altered sensory experience in early life often leads to remarkable adaptations so that humans and animals can make the best use of the available information in a particular environment. By restricting visual input to a limited range of orientations in young animals, this investigation shows that stimulus selectivity, e.g., the sharpness of tuning of single neurons in the primary visual cortex, is modified to match a particular environment. Specifically, neurons tuned to an experienced orientation in orientation-restricted animals show sharper orientation tuning than neurons in normal animals, whereas the opposite was true for neurons tuned to non-experienced orientations. This sharpened tuning appears to be due to elongated receptive fields. Our results demonstrate that restricted sensory experiences can sculpt the supranormal functions of single neurons tailored for a particular environment. The above findings, in addition to the minimal population response to orientations close to the experienced one, agree with the predictions of a sparse coding hypothesis in which information is represented efficiently by a small number of activated neurons. This suggests that early brain areas adopt an efficient strategy for coding information even when animals are raised in a severely limited visual environment where sensory inputs have an unnatural statistical structure.

Fig. 1. Experiment by Blakemore & Cooper (1970)


Fig. 2. Orientation-restricted visual environment: optical defocus by cylinder lens (V-goggle)


Fig. 3. Visual stimuli and mapping of receptive field and orientation selectivity


Fig. 4. Sharper orientation tuning of V1 neurons in orientation-restricted animals