by Anton Chizhov, Natalia Merkulyeva
A biophysically detailed description of the mechanisms of the primary vision is still being developed. We have incorporated a simplified, filter-based description of retino-thalamic visual signal processing into the detailed, conductance-based refractory density description of the neuronal population activity of the primary visual cortex. We compared four mechanisms of the direction selectivity (DS), three of them being based on asymmetrical projections of different types of thalamic neurons to the cortex, distinguishing between (i) lagged and nonlagged, (ii) transient and sustained, and (iii) On and Off neurons. The fourth mechanism implies a lack of subcortical bias and is an epiphenomenon of intracortical interactions between orientation columns. The simulations of the cortical response to moving gratings have verified that first three mechanisms provide DS to an extent compared with experimental data and that the biophysical model realistically reproduces characteristics of the visual cortex activity, such as membrane potential, firing rate, and synaptic conductances. The proposed model reveals the difference between the mechanisms of both the intact and the silenced cortex, favoring the second mechanism. In the fourth case, DS is weaker but significant; it completely vanishes in the silenced cortex.DS in the On-Off mechanism derives from the nonlinear interactions within the orientation map. Results of simulations can help to identify a prevailing mechanism of DS in V1. This is a step towards a comprehensive biophysical modeling of the primary visual system in the frameworks of the population rate coding concept.