Long-range neural inhibition and stimulus competition in the archerfish optic tectum
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The archerfish, which is unique in its ability to hunt insects above the water level by shooting a jet of water at its prey, operates in a complex visual environment. The fish needs to quickly select one object from among many others. In animals other than the archerfish, long-range inhibition is considered to drive selection. As a result of long-range inhibition, a potential target outside a neuron’s receptive field suppresses the activity elicited by another potential target within the receptive field. We tested whether a similar mechanism operates in the archerfish by recording the activity of neurons in the optic tectum while presenting a target stimulus inside the receptive field and a competing stimulus outside the receptive field. We held the features of the target constant while varying the size, speed, and distance of the competing stimulus. We found cells that exhibit long-range inhibition; i.e., inhibition that extends to a significant part of the entire visual field of the animal. The competing stimulus depressed the firing rate. In some neurons, this effect was dependent on the features of the competing stimulus. These findings suggest that long-range inhibition may play a crucial role in the target selection process in the archerfish.
KeywordsArcherfish Electrophysiology Neural inhibition Stimulus competition Selection
We thank Gustavo Glusman for technical assistance.
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 211/15), and the Helmsley Charitable Trust through the Agricultural, Biological and Cognitive Robotics Initiative of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Compliance with ethical standard
No competing interests declared.
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