Spatiotemporal frequency responses were measured at different levels of light adaptation for cat X and Y retinal ganglion cells. Stationary sinusoidal luminance gratings whose contrast was modulated sinusoidally in time or drifting gratings were used as stimuli. Under photopic illumination, when the spatial frequency was held constant at or above its optimum value, an X cell’s responsivity was essentially constant as the temporal frequency was changed from 1.5 to 30 Hz. At lower temporal frequencies, responsivity rolled off gradually, and at higher ones it rolled off rapidly. In contrast, when the spatial frequency was held constant at a low value, an X cell’s responsivity increased continuously with temporal frequency from a very low value at 0.1 Hz to substantial values at temporal frequencies higher than 30 Hz, from which responsivity rolled off again. Thus, 0 cycles · deg-1 became the optimal spatial frequency above 30 Hz. For Y cells under photopic illumination, the spatiotemporal interaction was even more complex. When the spatial frequency was held constant at or above its optimal value, the temporal frequency range over which responsivity was constant was shorter than that of X cells. At lower spatial frequencies, this range was not appreciably different. As for X cells, 0 cycles · deg-1 was the optimal spatial frequency above 30 Hz. Temporal resolution (defined as the high temporal frequency at which responsivity had fallen to 10 impulses · s-1) for a uniform field was ~95 Hz for X cells and ~120 Hz for Y cells under photopic illumination. Temporal resolution was lower at lower adaptation levels. The results were interpreted in terms of a Gaussian centersurround model. For X cells, the surround and center strengths were nearly equal at low and moderate temporal frequencies, but the surround strength exceeded the center strength above 30 Hz. Thus, the response to a spatially uniform stimulus at high temporal frequencies was dominated by the surround. In addition, at temporal frequencies above 30 Hz, the center radius increased.
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