The visual cortex of turtles contains cells with at least two different receptive field properties. Superficial units are located immediately below the pial surface. They fire in response to moving bars located anywhere in binocular visual space and to two spots of light presented with different spatiotemporal separations. Their location in the cortex suggests that superficial units correspond to a distinct class of inhibitory interneurons, the subpial cells, that are embedded in geniculocortical axons as they cross the visual cortex of turtles. This study used a detailed compartmental model of a subpial cell and a large-scale model of visual cortex to examine the cellular mechanisms that underlie the formation of superficial units on the assumption that they are subpial cells. Simulations with the detailed model indicated that the biophysical properties of subpial cells allow them to respond strongly to activation by geniculate inputs, but the presence of dendritic beads on the subpial cells decreases their sensitivity and allows them to integrate the inputs from many geniculate afferents. Simulations with the large-scale model indicated that the responses of subpial cells to simulated visual stimuli consist of two phases. A fast phase is mediated by direct geniculate inputs. A slow phase is mediated by recurrent excitation from pyramidal cells. It appears that subpial cells play a major role in controlling the information content of visual responses.
- Dendritic beads
- Inhibitory interneurons