In cortical area 3b of cats, responses of 76 single neurons to punctate indentations were recorded before and during iontophoretic administration of bicuculline methiodide (BMI), a GABAergic antagonist, at levels that did not affect spontaneous activity. Constant amplitude indentations were applied to selected sites along distalproximal and radial-ulnar axes that intersected the most sensitive area in the receptive field. Profiles of response magnitudes were used to measure receptive field dimensions before and during antagonism of GABAergic inhibition. Blockade of GABAergic transmission caused receptive field dimensions of 48 rapidly-adapting neurons to increase an average 141%, or nearly 2.5 times their original size. Analysis of the spatial distribution of inhibition indicated that in-field inhibition was larger than surround inhibition. During BMI administration, response latency was significantly longer for response elicited from the expanded territory than for responses elicited from within the original receptive field, suggesting that receptive field expansion might be mediated by multisynaptic intracortical connections. The magnitude of receptive field expansion was independent of receptive field size or peripheral location. In a substantial number of neurons, however, BMI produced asymmetric expansions that extended only in the proximal direction. For 9 slowly-adapting neurons, BMI produced measureable increases in receptive field dimensions, but these changes were significantly smaller than the changes in rapidly-adapting neurons.
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