Adaptation to contingencies in macaque primary visual cortex

Matteo Carandini, Horace B. Barlow, Lawrence P. O'Keefe, Allen B. Poirson, J. Anthony Movshon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We tested the hypothesis that neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) adapt selectively to contingencies in the attributes of visual stimuli. We recorded from single neurons in macaque V1 and measured the effects of adaptation either to the sum of two gratings (compound stimulus) or to the individual gratings. According to our hypothesis, there would be a component of adaptation that is specific to the compound stimulus. In a first series of experiments, the two gratings differed in orientation. One grating had optimal orientation and the other was orthogonal to it, and therefore did not activate the neuron under study. These experiments provided evidence in favour of our hypothesis. In most cells adaptation to the compound stimulus reduced responses to the compound stimulus more than it reduced responses to the optimal grating, and the responses to the compound stimulus were reduced more by adaptation to the compound stimulus than by adaptation to the individual gratings. This suggests that a component of adaptation was specific to (and caused by) the simultaneous presence of the two orientations in the compound stimulus. To test whether V1 neurons could adapt to other contingencies in the stimulus attributes, we performed a second series of experiments, in which the component gratings were parallel but differed in spatial frequency, and were both effective in activating the neuron under study. These experiments failed to reveal convincing contingent effects of adaptation, suggesting that neurons cannot adapt equally well to all types of contingency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1149-1154
Number of pages6
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1358
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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