Receptive field properties of neurons in area V3 of macaque monkey extrastriate cortex

D. J. Felleman, D. C. Van Essen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

300 Scopus citations


Receptive field properties of 147 neurons histologically verified to be located in area V3 were investigated during semichronic recording from paralyzed anesthetized macaque monkeys. Quantitative analyses were made of neuron selectivities for direction, orientation, speed, binocular disparity, and color. The majority of neurons in V3 (76%) were strongly orientation selective; 40% demonstrated strong direction selectivity. Most cells were tuned for stimulus speed and almost half showed optimum responses at 16°/s. The distribution of optimum speeds ranged primarily from 4 to 32°/s. Several cells in V3 displayed multipeaked orientation- and/or direction-tuning curves. These cells had two or more narrowly tuned peaks that were not co-axial. In some ways, they resemble higher-order hypercomplex cells of cat area 19 (40) and may subserve a higher level of form or motion analysis than is seen at antecedent visual areas. Roughly half (45%) of the cells were selective for binocular disparity. Approximately half of these were tuned excitatory in that they showed weak responses when tested through either eye alone, but showed strong binocular facilitation centered on the fixation plane. The other disparity-selective cells were tuned inhibitory or asymmetric in their responses in front and behind the fixation plane. Contrary to previous reports, ~20% of the neurons in V3 were color selective in terms of showing a severalfold greater response to the best monochromatic wavelength compared with the worst. Color-tuning curves of the subset of color selective cells had, on average, a full bandwidth at half maximum response of 80-100 nm. A comparison of the receptive field properties of neurons in V3 to those in other areas of visual cortex suggests that V3, like MT, is well suited for the analysis of several aspects of stimulus motion. V3 may also be involved in some aspects of form analysis, particularly at low contrast levels. Comparison with area VP, a thin strip of cortex anterior to ventral V2, which was previously considered part of V3, indicates that direction selectivity is much more prevalent in V3 than in VP. Conversely, color-selective cells are the majority in VP but a minority in V3. This suggests that visual information is processed differently in the upper and lower visual fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-920
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987


Dive into the research topics of 'Receptive field properties of neurons in area V3 of macaque monkey extrastriate cortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this