Adaptation is a multi-faceted phenomenon that is of interest in terms of both its function and its potential to reveal underlying neural processing. Many behavioral studies have shown that after exposure to an oriented adapter the perceived orientation of a subsequent test is repulsed away from the orientation of the adapter. This is the well-known Tilt Aftereffect (TAE). Recently, we showed that the dynamics of recurrently connected networks may contribute substantially to the neural changes induced by adaptation, especially on short time scales. Here we extended the network model and made the novel behavioral prediction that the TAE should be attractive, not repulsive, on a time scale of a few 100 ms. Our experiments, using a novel adaptation protocol that specifically targeted adaptation on a short time scale, confirmed this prediction. These results support our hypothesis that recurrent network dynamics may contribute to short-term adaptation. More broadly, they show that understanding the neural processing of visual inputs that change on the time scale of a typical fixation requires a detailed analysis of not only the intrinsic properties of neurons, but also the slow and complex dynamics that emerge from their recurrent connectivity. We argue that this is but one example of how even simple recurrent networks can underlie surprisingly complex information processing, and are involved in rudimentary forms of memory, spatio-temporal integration, and signal amplification.
- recurrent connections
- tilt aftereffect