Since the discovery of orientation selectivity by Hubel and Wiesel, the mechanisms responsible for this remarkable operation in the visual cortex have been controversial. Experimental studies over the past year have highlighted the contribution of feedforward thalamo-cortical afferents, as proposed originally by Hubel and Wiesel, but they have also indicated that this contribution alone is insufficient to account for the sharp orientation tuning observed in the visual cortex. Recent advances in understanding the functional architecture of local cortical circuitry have led to new proposals for the involvement of intracortical recurrent excitation and inhibition in orientation selectivity. Establishing how these two mechanisms work together remains an important experimental and theoretical challenge.
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