The activity of neurons in primary visual cortex is influenced by the orientation, contrast, and temporal frequency of a visual stimulus. This raises the question of how these stimulus properties interact to shape neuronal responses. While past studies have shown that the bandwidth of orientation tuning is invariant to stimulus contrast, the influence of temporal frequency on orientation-tuning bandwidth is unknown. Here, we investigate the influence of temporal frequency on orientation tuning and direction selectivity in area 17 of ferret visual cortex. For both simple cells and complex cells, measures of orientation-tuning bandwidth (half-width at half-maximum response) are ∼20-25° across a wide range of temporal frequencies. Thus cortical neurons display temporal-frequency invariant orientation tuning. In contrast, direction selectivity is typically reduced, and occasionally reverses, at nonpreferred temporal frequencies. These results show that the mechanisms contributing to the generation of orientation tuning and direction selectivity are differentially affected by the temporal frequency of a visual stimulus and support the notion that stability of orientation tuning is an important aspect of visual processing.
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