Recent stimulus history, or adaptation, can alter neuronal response properties. Adaptation effects have been characterized in a number of visually responsive structures, from the retina to higher visual cortex. However, it remains unclear whether adaptation effects across stages of the visual system take a similar form in response to a particular sensory event. This is because studies typically probe a single structure or cortical area, using a stimulus ensemble chosen to provide potent drive to the cells of interest. Here we adopt an alternative approach and compare adaptation effects in primary visual cortex (V1) and area MT using identical stimulus ensembles. Previous work has suggested these areas adjust to recent stimulus drive in distinct ways. We show that this is not the case: adaptation effects in V1 and MT can involve weak or strong loss of responsivity and shifts in neuronal preference toward or away from the adapter, depending on stimulus size and adaptation duration. For a particular stimulus size and adaptation duration, however, effects are similar in nature and magnitude in V1 and MT. We also show that adaptation effects in MT of awake animals depend strongly on stimulus size. Our results suggest that the strategies for adjusting to recent stimulus history depend more strongly on adaptation duration and stimulus size than on the cortical area. Moreover, they indicate that different levels of the visual system adapt similarly to recent sensory experience.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Adaptation duration
- Motion processing
- Surround suppression