Development of cortical orientation selectivity in the absence of visual experience with contour

Tomokazu Ohshiro, Shaista Hussain, Michael Weliky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Visual cortical neurons are selective for the orientation of lines, and the full development of this selectivity requires natural visual experience after eye opening. Here we examined whether this selectivity develops without seeing lines and contours. Juvenile ferrets were reared in a dark room and visually trained by being shown a movie of flickering, sparse spots. We found that despite the lack of contour visual experience, the cortical neurons of these ferrets developed strong orientation selectivity and exhibited simple-cell receptive fields. This finding suggests that overt contour visual experience is unnecessary for the maturation of orientation selectivity and is inconsistent with the computational models that crucially require the visual inputs of lines and contours for the development of orientation selectivity. We propose that a correlationbased model supplemented with a constraint on synaptic strength dynamics is able to account for our experimental result.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1923-1932
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct
Externally publishedYes


  • Hebbian learning rule
  • Self-organization
  • Simple-cell receptive field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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