Reverse correlation was used in conjunction with ternary white noise to estimate the first-order spatiotemporal receptive-field structure of LGN cells in the anesthetized, paralyzed cat. Based on a singular-value decomposition of these data, we conclude that most LGN cells are approximately space–time separable. An analysis of the timecourses of the first singular values revealed a strongly bimodal but continuous distribution of rise times and waveforms. The two modes represented cells generally associated with the lagged and nonlagged classes of Mastronarde (1987a,b), and this was confirmed by their responses to step and sine-modulated spots in their field centers. The intermediate cells, rather than appearing to constitute a separate group, smoothly filled the region between the obviously lagged and nonlagged cells in every respect. These conclusions are limited to X-cells although the data from a much smaller population of Y-cells conform to the same scheme. We conclude that lagged and nonlagged cells represent the modes of a continuous and very broad distribution of temporal responses in the cat LGN.
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