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J Physiol. 2011 Jan 1;589(Pt 1):87-99. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.190538. Epub 2010 Jul 5.

A comparison of visual responses in the lateral geniculate nucleus of alert and anaesthetized macaque monkeys.

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Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis, CA 95618, USA.


Despite the increasing use of alert animals for studies aimed at understanding visual processing in the cerebral cortex, relatively little attention has been focused on quantifying the response properties of neurons that provide input to the cortex. Here, we examine the response properties of neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the thalamus in the alert macaque monkey and compare these responses to those in the anaesthetized animal. Compared to the anaesthetized animal, we show that magnocellular and parvocellular neurons in the alert animal respond to visual stimuli with significantly higher firing rates. This increase in responsiveness is not accompanied by a change in the shape of neuronal contrast response functions or the strength of centre–surround antagonism; however, it is accompanied by an increased ability of neurons to follow stimuli drifting at higher spatial and temporal frequencies.

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