Classifying simple and complex cells on the basis of response modulation

Bernt C. Skottun, Russell L. De Valois, David H. Grosof, J. Anthony Movshon, Duane G. Albrecht, A. B. Bonds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hubel and Wiesel (1962; Journal of Physiology, London, 160, 106-154) introduced the classification of cortical neurons as simple and complex on the basis of four tests of their receptive field structure. These tests are partly subjective and no one of them unequivocally places neurons into distinct classes. A simple, objective classification criterion based on the form of the response to drifting sinusoidal gratings has been used by several laboratories, although it has been criticized by others. We review published and unpublished evidence which indicates that this simple and objective criterion reliability divides neurons of the striate cortex in both cats and monkeys into two groups that correspond closely to the classically-described simple and complex classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1078-1086
Number of pages9
JournalVision research
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 1991


  • Complex cells
  • Gratings
  • Linear systems
  • Response modulation
  • Simple cells
  • Spatial frequency
  • Striate cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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