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Neural Computation

March 2006, Vol. 18, No. 3, Pages 569-590
(doi: 10.1162/neco.2006.18.3.569)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Theoretical Analysis of the Influence of Fixational Instability on the Development of Thalamocortical Connectivity
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Under natural viewing conditions, the physiological instability of visual fixation keeps the projection of the stimulus on the retina in constant motion. After eye opening, chronic exposure to a constantly moving retinal image might influence the experience-dependent refinement of cell response characteristics. The results of previous modeling studies have suggested a contribution of fixational instability to the Hebbian maturation of the receptive fields of V1 simple cells (Rucci, Edelman, & Wray, 2000; Rucci & Casile, 2004). This letter examines the origins of such a contribution. Using quasilinear models of lateral geniculate nucleus units and V1 simple cells, we derive analytical expressions for the second- order statistics of thalamocortical activity before and after eye opening. We show that in the presence of natural stimulation, fixational instability introduces a spatially uncorrelated signal in the retinal input, which strongly influences the structure of correlated activity in the model. This input signal produces a regime of thalamocortical activity similar to that present before eye opening and compatible with the Hebbian maturation of cortical receptive fields.