V1 orientation plasticity is explained by broadly tuned feedforward inputs and intracortical sharpening

Andrew F. Teich and Ning Qian, Vis. Neuroscience, 2010, 27:57-73.
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Abstract

Orientation adaptation and perceptual learning change orientation tuning curves of V1 cells. Adaptation shifts tuning curve peaks away from the adapted orientation, reduces tuning curve slopes near the adapted orientation, and increases the responses on the far flank of tuning curves. Learning an orientation discrimination task increases tuning curve slopes near the trained orientation. These changes have been explained previously in a recurrent model (RM) of orientation selectivity. However, the RM generates only complex cells when they are well tuned, so that there is currently no model of orientation plasticity for simple cells. In addition, some feedforward models, such as the modified feedforward model (MFM), also contain recurrent cortical excitation, and it is unknown whether they can explain plasticity. Here, we compare plasticity in the MFM, which simulates simple cells, and a recent modification of the RM (MRM), which displays a continuum of simple-to-complex characteristics. Both pre- and postsynaptic-based modifications of the recurrent and feedforward connections in the models are investigated. The MRM can account for all the learning- and adaptation-induced plasticity, for both simple and complex cells, while the MFM cannot. The key features from the MRM required for explaining plasticity are broadly tuned feedforward inputs and sharpening by a Mexican hat intracortical interaction profile. The mere presence of recurrent cortical interactions in feedforward models like the MFM is insufficient; such models have more rigid tuning curves. We predict that the plastic properties must be absent for cells whose orientation tuning arises from a feedforward mechanism.

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