The encoding properties of the visual pathway are under constant control from mechanisms of adaptation and systems-level plasticity. In all but the most artificial experimental conditions, these mechanisms serve to continuously modulate the spatial and temporal receptive field (RF) dynamics. Conventional reverse-correlation techniques designed to capture spatiotemporal RF properties assume invariant stimulus-response relationships over experimental trials and are thus limited in their applicability to more natural experimental conditions. Presented here is an approach to tracking time-varying encoding dynamics in the early visual pathway based on adaptive estimation of the spatiotemporal RF in the time domain. Simulations and experimental data from the lateral geniculate nucleus reveal that subtle features of encoding properties can be captured by the adaptive approach that would otherwise be undetected. Capturing the role of dynamically varying encoding mechanisms is vital to our understanding of vision on the natural setting, where there is absence of a true steady state.

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