Adaptation in single units in visual cortex: The tuning of aftereffects in the temporal domain

A. B. Saul, M. S. Cynader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Adaptation-induced changes in the temporal-frequency tuning and direction selectivity of cat visual cortical cells were studied. Aftereffects were induced largely independent of direction. Adapting in either direction reduced responses in both directions. Aftereffects in the direction opposite that adapted were only slightly weaker than were aftereffects in the adapted direction. No cell showed any enhancement of responses to drifting test stimuli after adapting with moving gratings. Adapting in a cell's null direction usually had no effect. Dramatic differences between the adaptation characteristics of moving and stationary stimuli were observed, however. Furthermore, aftereffects were temporal frequency specific. Temporal frequency-specific aftereffects were found in both directions: Adapting in one direction induced frequency-specific effects in both directions. This bidirectionality of frequency-specific aftereffects applied to the spatial domain as well. Often, aftereffects in the direction opposite that adapted were more narrowly tuned. In general, adaptation could shift a cell's preferred temporal frequency. Aftereffects were most prominent at high temporal frequencies when testing in the adapted direction. Aftereffects seemed to be more closely linked to temporal frequency than to velocity matching. These results constrain models of cortical connectivity. In particular, we argue against schemes by which direction selectivity is generated by inhibiting a cell specifically when stimulated in the nonpreferred direction. Instead, we argue that cells receive bidirectional spatially and temporally tuned inputs, which could combine in spatiotemporal quadrature to produce direction selectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-620
Number of pages12
JournalVisual Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation aftereffects
  • Cortical organization
  • Direction selectivity
  • Intracortical inhibition
  • Temporal frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems


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