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RFspotter is a powerful new tool for preliminary assessments of the location and tuning properties of receptive fields (RFs) in the early visual pathway (retina, LGN, V1, V2, V4, MT).

Various classes of stimuli (gratings, noise, textures) can be generated and mirrored to an external monitor or a projector using the iPad-2 VGA or HDMI adaptor. Several stimulus parameters (size, orientation, spatial position, direction of motion) are controlled in real-time via multi-touch gestures. Other parameters, such as contrast, color, background and numerous pattern-specific parameters are controlled via popup menus on the iPad's screen.

The ideal use of RFspotter is for localizing RFs which may be scattered across an area larger than that covered by your experimental display. Instead of moving your display around, connect your iPad2 to a projector and use RFspotter to explore an area as large as the projected image. Once a unit of interest has been spotted, move your experimental display to the optimal position and conduct your own experiments.

Review of RFspotter by Izumi Ohzawa, Ph.D.

“RFspotter by Nicolas Cottaris is a serious but fun application for use in a visual neuroscience laboratory. It is also a great educational tool for classrooms and student labs.

The app has been developed for finding best parameters for visual stimuli for individual neurons in various visual areas of the brain. By connecting an external display on which iPad display is mirrored, various stimuli can be presented to stimulate neurons.

The best part is that we can directly manipulate the stimulus parameters by touch gestures we all know well by now -- two-finger rotation, expanding and shrinking by pinch, moving it anywhere. We have been doing these manipulations with a mouse several days at a time, for how many years...?  After an app like this, I know we will not tolerate a clumsy GUI device like the mouse.

I am convinced that this kind of app is the beginning of a huge trend in controlling everything with iPads, in scientific labs and in industry.”

Izumi Ohzawa, Ph.D.
Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences and School of Engineering Science,
Osaka University, Japan