Nonlinear responses of simple cells to Mach band stimuli: Evidence from early monocularly deprived cats

Gil Syrkin, Uri Yinon, Moshe Gur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have previously shown that, cat simple cells respond linearly to edges of variable blur widths: cells with receptive fields (RFs) of even symmetry respond better to a luminance ramp (where Mach bands are observed); cells with RFs of odd symmetry respond better to a luminance step (where no Mach bands are perceived). Our evidence has also indicated the existence of inhibitory interaction between cells with RFs of even and odd symmetry as predicted by the Tolhurst-Ratliff Mach band model. Since monocular deprivation is known to impair cortical inhibitory mechanisms, we studied the responses of simple cells of adult cats monocularly deprived at the age of 8-10 weeks to Mach band stimuli in order to delineate specific changes in inhibitory interactions caused by monocular deprivation. In pattern-deprived cats, particularly for cells driven by the deprived eye, there were many cells that responded contrary to linear models: odd-symmetric cells responded maximally to blurred edges while even-symmetric cells responded maximally to sharp edges. Cells that responded maximally as predicted, responded, similarly to normal cat cells, less than expected at suboptimal widths. All cells in normal and light-deprived cats responded in a linear fashion to sinusoidal stimuli. We conclude, therefore, that intracortical inhibition shapes simple cells' responses to edges. Monocular deprivation impairs this mechanism, thus causing simple cells in monocularly deprived cats to respond nonlinearly to edges. All simple cells responded linearly to gratings since it is not the linear spatiotemporal RF of these simple cells that was impaired under monocular deprivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-222
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Inhibition
  • Mach bands
  • Receptive fields
  • Simple cells
  • Visual cortex


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