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On spiking units in the first optic chiasm of the blowfly

III. The sustaining unit


We recorded from the spiking sustaining unit in the optic chiasm between lamina and medulla in the brain of the blowfly Calliphora vicina, and investigated both temporal and spatial properties of the light-adapted cell. The sustaining unit fails to follow the highest temporal frequencies followed by the photoreceptor, but its temporal resolution is substantially better than that of the on-off unit. The sustaining unit does not display the fast temporal adaptation as previously described in the on-off unit. As compared with the on-off unit, the sustaining unit has a high sensitivity to small contrasts. Although the sustaining unit continues spiking as long as the light is on, its response is also transient as it adapts rapidly after a change of intensity. The receptive field and the line spread function of the sustaining unit have a similar size and profile: a central lobe with a half-width of approximately 2° surrounded by a circular inhibitory zone located at about 3° off-axis.

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Correspondence to N. M. Jansonius.

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Jansonius, N.M., van Hateren, J.H. On spiking units in the first optic chiasm of the blowfly. J Comp Physiol A 173, 187–192 (1993).

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Key words

  • Blowfly
  • Sustaining unit
  • Lamina
  • Spatio
  • temporal processing
  • On-off unit