Spectro-temporal receptive field

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The spectro-temporal receptive field or spatio-temporal receptive field (STRF) of a neuron represents which types of stimuli excite or inhibit that neuron.[1] "Spectro-temporal" refers most commonly to audition, where the neuron's response depends on frequency versus time, while "spatio-temporal" refers to vision, where the neuron's response depends on spatial location versus time. Thus they are not exactly the same concept, but both referred to as STRF and serving a similar role in the analysis of neural responses.

If linearity is assumed, the neuron can be modelled as having a time-varying firing rate equal to the convolution of the stimulus with the STRF.

Auditory STRFs[edit]

The example STRF here is for an auditory neuron from the area CM[disambiguation needed] of a male zebra finch, when played conspecific birdsong. The colour of this plot shows the effect of sound on this neuron: this neuron tends to be excited by sound from about 2.5 kHz to 7 kHz heard by the animal 12 ms ago, but it is inhibited by sound in the same frequency range from about 18 ms ago.

STRF generated with STRFPAK.

Visual STRFs[edit]


  • Dario L. Ringach Receptive Fields in Macaque Primary Visual Cortex Spatial Structure and Symmetry of Simple-Cell (2002)
  • J. H. van Hateren and D. L. Ruderman Independent component analysis of natural image sequences yields spatio-temporal filters similar to simple cells in primary visual cortex (2002)


  1. ^ Jean Pierre Richard, Hans-Joachim Leppelsack, Martine Hausberger (1995), "A rapid correlation method for the analysis of spectro-temporal receptive fields of auditory neurons", Journal of Neuroscience Methods 61 (1-2): 99–103, doi:10.1016/0165-0270(95)00029-T