Development of visual inhibitory interactions in kittens

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This study was designed to monitor the development of inhibitory interactions elicited in the cat visual system by oriented visual stimuli. Steady-state visual-evoked potentials (VEPs) were recorded from the scalp of 11 behaving and alert kittens while they viewed contrast-reversed sinusoidal gratings. In adult cats, the form of VEP contrast-response curves (the amplitude of second harmonic modulation as a function of stimulus contrast) was modified by superimposing a mask grating on the test. Parallel masks displaced the curves to a higher contrast region (probably via contrast gain-control mechanisms), increasing contrast threshold without affecting the slope of the curve. Orthogonal gratings, on the other hand, decrease the slope of the curve without affecting threshold (so called cross-orientation inhibition: Morrone et al., 1981). These effects are similar to those previously reported in human VEPs (Morrone & Burr, 1986; Burr & Morrone, 1987) and single cortical cat cells (Morrone et al., 1982). For young kittens of 20 days, the orthogonal mask had no effect whatsoever on the response curves, and the effect of the parallel mask was much less than for adult cats. At about 40 days, the orthogonal mask began to attenuate responses multiplicatively, and by 50 days the amount of multiplicative attenuation had reached adult levels. The effect of the parallel mask (as indicated by the increase in threshold elevation) increased gradually from 20–50 days. The results are consistent with the existence of at least two types of inhibition in cat visual neurones that develop at different rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages14
JournalVisual Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • Development
  • Gain control
  • Inhibition
  • Masking
  • Vision
  • Visually evoked potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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