“The sensory-triggered activity of a neuron is typically characterized in terms of a tuning curve, which describes the neuron’s average response as a function of a parameter that characterizes a physical stimulus. What determines the shapes of tuning curves in a neuronal population?”

Optimal Tuning Curves for Four Classes of Downstream Functions

by Emilio Salinas
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

Previous theoretical studies and related experiments does not explain the two general types of tuning profiles that are commonly observed: unimodal and monotonic.
The author suggest that optimal sensory tuning curves are shaped not only by stimulus statistics and signal-to-noise properties, but also according to their impact on downstream neural circuits and, ultimately, on behavior.
You may access the full published version, which is freely available here
you may directly download the pdf version here.
Salinas E (2006) How behavioral constraints may determine optimal sensory representations. PLoS Biol 4(12): e387. DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040387

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