Lateral spatial interactions among elements of a scene, which either enhance or degrade visual performance, are ubiquitous in vision. The neural mechanisms underlying lateral spatial interactions are a matter of debate, and various hypotheses have been proposed. Suppressive effects may be due to local inhibitory interactions, whereas facilitatory effects are typically ascribed either to the function of long-range horizontal projections in V1 or to uncertainty reduction. We investigated the development of lateral spatial interactions, facilitation and suppression, and compared their developmental profiles to those of potential underlying mechanisms in the visual system of infant macaques. Animals ranging in age from 10 weeks to 3 years were tested with a lateral masking paradigm. We found that suppressive interactions are present from very early in postnatal life, showing no change over the age range tested. However, facilitation develops slowly over the first year after birth. Our data suggest that the early maturation of suppressive interactions is related to the relatively mature receptive field properties of neurons in early visual cortical areas near birth in infant macaques, whereas the later maturation of facilitation is unlikely to be explained by development of local or long-range connectivity in primary visual cortex. Instead our data favor a late developing feedback or top-down cognitive process to explain the origin of facilitation.
- Contrast sensitivity
- Lateral interaction