In the present study, we examined the way that scene complexity and saccades combine to sculpt the temporal response patterns of V1 neurons. To bridge the gap between conventional and free viewing experiments, we compared responses of neurons across four paradigms ranging from less to more natural. An optimal bar stimulus was either flashed into a receptive field (RF) or brought into it via saccade and was embedded in either a natural scene or a uniform gray background. Responses to a flashed bar tended to be higher with a uniform rather than natural background. The most novel result reported here is that responses evoked by stimuli brought into the RF via saccades were enhanced compared with the same stimuli flashed during steady fixation. No single factor appears to account entirely for this surprising effect, but there were small contributions from fixational saccades and residual activity carried over from the previous fixation. We also found a negative correlation with cells' response "history" in that a larger response on one fixation was associated with a lower response on the subsequent fixation. The effects of the natural background and saccades exhibited a significant nonlinear interaction with the suppressive effects of the natural background less for stimuli entering RFs with saccades. Together, these results suggest that even responses to standard optimal stimuli are difficult to predict under conditions similar to natural vision, and further demonstrate the importance of naturalistic experimental paradigms to the study of visual processing in V1.
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