Previous studies on single neurons in primary visual cortex have reported that selectivity for orientation and spatial frequency tuning do not change with stimulus contrast. The prevailing hypothesis is that contrast scales the response magnitude but does not differentially affect particular stimuli. Models where responses are normalized over contrast to maintain constant tuning for parameters such as orientation and spatial frequency have been proposed to explain these results. However, our results indicate that a fundamental property of receptive field organization, spatial summation, is not contrast invariant. We examined the spatial frequency tuning of cells that show contrast-dependent changes in spatial summation and have found that spatial frequency selectivity also depends on stimulus contrast. These results indicate that contrast changes in the spatial frequency tuning curves result from spatial reorganization of the receptive field.
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