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Sparse coding models demonstrate some non-classical receptive field effects

Non-classical receptive field (nCRF) effects include several response properties in V1 neurons not explained by a linear-nonlinear (LN) receptive field model, but instead requiring significant interactions between V1 neurons. Using a sparse coding model [1, 2] and bar and grating stimuli, simulated physiology experiments were carried out that replicated several nCRF phenomena reported previously in neurophysiology experiments. These include: end-stopping [3] (Fig. 1), contrast invariance of orientation tuning [4] (Fig. 2), radius, orientation, and contrast tunings of surround suppression [5, 6] (Fig. 3, 4, 5). The results suggest that a sparse coding model can explain many of the nonlinear effects in V1 cells, and is therefore a reasonable candidate for a functional model of striate cortex.

Figure 1
figure 1

End-stopping. Comparison with a LN model.

Figure 2
figure 2

Contrast invariance of orientation tuning.

Figure 3
figure 3

Surround suppression at different contrasts.

Figure 4
figure 4

Orientation tuning of surround suppression.

Figure 5
figure 5

Surround orientation influences contrast tuning.


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Correspondence to Mengchen Zhu.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Zhu, M., Rozell, C.J. Sparse coding models demonstrate some non-classical receptive field effects. BMC Neurosci 11 (Suppl 1), O21 (2010).

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  • Receptive Field
  • Nonlinear Effect
  • Field Effect
  • Field Model
  • Functional Model