Integrate-and-fire vs Poisson models of LGN input to V1 cortex: Noisier inputs reduce orientation selectivity

I. Chun Lin, Dajun Xing, Robert Shapley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the reasons the visual cortex has attracted the interest of computational neuroscience is that it has well-defined inputs. The lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the thalamus is the source of visual signals to the primary visual cortex (V1). Most largescale cortical network models approximate the spike trains of LGN neurons as simple Poisson point processes. However, many studies have shown that neurons in the early visual pathway are capable of spiking with high temporal precision and their discharges are not Poisson-like. To gain an understanding of how response variability in the LGN influences the behavior of V1, we study response properties of model V1 neurons that receive purely feedforward inputs from LGN cells modeled either as noisy leaky integrateand-fire (NLIF) neurons or as inhomogeneous Poisson processes. We first demonstrate that the NLIF model is capable of reproducing many experimentally observed statistical properties of LGN neurons. Then we show that a V1model in which the LGN input to a V1 neuron is modeled as a group of NLIF neurons produces higher orientation selectivity than the one with Poisson LGN input. The second result implies that statistical characteristics of LGN spike trains are important for V1's function. We conclude that physiologically motivated models of V1 need to include more realistic LGN spike trains that are less noisy than inhomogeneous Poisson processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-572
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Computational Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Integrate-and-fire
  • Lateral geniculate nucleus
  • Neural noise
  • Orientation selectivity
  • Poisson processes
  • Primary visual cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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