Fine structure of receptive-field centers of X and Y cells of the cat

R. E. Soodak, E. Kaplan, R. M. Shapley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the fine structure of receptive field centers of X and Y cells of the retina and lateral geniculate nucleus of the cat using sinusoidal grating stimuli of high spatial frequency. By measuring orientation tuning and spatial-frequency tuning at multiple orientations, the two-dimensional sensitivity distribution was examined. We found that receptive-field centers typically have multiple sensitivity peaks that can be modeled as several spatially offset subunits. A subunit structure was found in both X and Y cells, with an average number of subunits per receptive-field center of approximately 2.9 in X cells and approximately 4.6 in Y cells. In X cells these subunits may correspond to individual cone bipolar inputs. In Y cells, the subunits may reflect the structure of the dendritic tree. The observation of the subunit structure of the receptive-field center, in conjunction with manipulation of the retinal wiring through pharmacological intervention, may provide a new tool for probing the circuitry of the retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-628
Number of pages8
JournalVisual neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991


  • Lateral geniculate nucleus
  • Retinal ganglion cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems


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