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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jul 3;109(27):11031-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1119527109. Epub 2012 May 21.

Different glutamate receptors convey feedforward and recurrent processing in macaque V1.

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Department of Vision and Cognition, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (KNAW), 1105 BA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) receive feedforward input from the thalamus, which shapes receptive-field properties. They additionally receive recurrent inputs via horizontal connections within V1 and feedback from higher visual areas that are thought to be important for conscious visual perception. Here, we investigated what roles different glutamate receptors play in conveying feedforward and recurrent inputs in macaque V1. As a measure of recurrent processing, we used figure-ground modulation (FGM), the increased activity of neurons representing figures compared with background, which depends on feedback from higher areas. We found that feedforward-driven activity was strongly reduced by the AMPA receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX), whereas this drug had no effect on FGM. In contrast, blockers of the NMDA receptor reduced FGM, whereas their effect on visually driven activity varied with the subunit specificity of the drug. The NMDA receptor blocker 2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (APV) caused a slight reduction of the visual response, whereas ifenprodil, which targets NMDA receptors containing the NMDA receptor NR2B subunit, increased the visual response. These findings demonstrate that glutamate receptors contribute differently to feedforward and recurrent processing in V1 and suggest ways to selectively disrupt recurrent processing so that its role in visual perception can be elucidated.

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