Ohshiro, Hussain, and Weliky (2011) recently showed that ferrets reared with exposure to flickering spot stimuli, in the absence of oriented visual experience, develop oriented receptive fields. They interpreted this as refutation of efficient coding models, which require oriented input in order to develop oriented receptive fields. Here we show that these data are compatible with the efficient coding hypothesis if the influence of spontaneous retinal waves is considered. We demonstrate that independent component analysis learns predominantly oriented receptive fields when trained on a mixture of spot stimuli and spontaneous retinal waves. Further, we show that the efficient coding hypothesis provides a compelling explanation for the contrast between the lack of receptive field changes seen in animals reared with spot stimuli and the significant cortical reorganisation observed in stripe-reared animals.

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