Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract It is proposed that distinct anatomical regions of cerebral cortex and of thalamic nuclei are functionally two-dimensional. On this view, the third (radial) dimension of cortical and thalamic structures is associated with a redundancy of circuits and functions so that reliable signal processing obtains in the presence of noisy or ambiguous stimuli. A mathematical model of simple cortical and thalamic nervous tissue is consequently developed, comprising two types of neurons (excitatory and inhibitory), homogeneously distributed in planar sheets, and interacting by way of recurrent lateral connexions. Following a discussion of certain anatomical and physiological restrictions on such interactions, numerical solutions of the relevant non-linear integro-differential equations are obtained. The results fall conveniently into three categories, each of which is postulated to correspond to a distinct type of tissue: sensory neo-cortex, archior prefrontal cortex, and thalamus. The different categories of solution are referred to as dynamical modes. The mode appropriate to thalamus involves a variety of non-linear oscillatory phenomena. That appropriate to archior prefrontal cortex is defined by the existence of spatially inhomogeneous stable steady states which retain contour information about prior stimuli. Finally, the mode appropriate to sensory neo-cortex involves active transient responses. It is shown that this particular mode reproduces some of the phenomenology of visual psychophysics, including spatial modulation transfer function determinations, certain metacontrast effects, and the spatial hysteresis phenomenon found in stereopsis.
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