Temporal information loss in the macaque early visual system

by Gregory D. Horwitz

Stimuli that modulate neuronal activity are not always detectable, indicating a loss of information between the modulated neurons and perception. To identify where in the macaque visual system information about periodic light modulations is lost, signal-to-noise ratios were compared across simulated cone photoreceptors, lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) neurons, and perceptual judgements. Stimuli were drifting, threshold-contrast Gabor patterns on a photopic background. The sensitivity of LGN neurons, extrapolated to populations, was similar to the monkeys’ at low temporal frequencies. At high temporal frequencies, LGN sensitivity exceeded the monkeys’ and approached the upper bound set by cone photocurrents. These results confirm a loss of high-frequency information downstream of the LGN. However, this loss accounted for only about 5% of the total. Phototransduction accounted for essentially all of the rest. Together, these results show that low temporal frequency information is lost primarily between the cones and the LGN, whereas high-frequency information is lost primarily within the cones, with a small additional loss downstream of the LGN.

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