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J Physiol. 2012 Aug 15;590(16):4061-77. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.230409. Epub 2012 Jun 11.

Colour and pattern selectivity of receptive fields in superior colliculus of marmoset monkeys.

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Save Sight Institute C09, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


The main subcortical visual targets of retinal output neurones (ganglion cells) are the parvocellular and magnocellular layers of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in the thalamus. In addition, a small and heterogeneous collection of ganglion cell axons projects to the koniocellular layers of the LGN, to the superior colliculus (SC), and to other subcortical targets. The functional (receptive field) properties and target specificity of these non-parvocellular, non-magnocellular populations remain poorly understood. It is known that one population of koniocellular layer cells in the LGN (blue-On cells) receives dominant functional input from short-wavelength sensitive (S or ‘blue') cones. Here we asked whether SC neurones also receive S cone inputs. We made extracellular recordings from single neurones (n = 38) in the SC of anaesthetised marmoset monkeys. Responses to drifting and flashed gratings providing defined levels of cone contrast were measured. The SC receptive fields we recorded were often binocular, showed ‘complex cell' like responses (On–Off responses), strong bandpass spatial frequency tuning, direction selectivity, and many showed strong and rapid habituation to repeatedly presented stimuli. We found no evidence for dominant S cone input to any SC neurone recorded. These data suggest that S cone signals may reach cortical pathways for colour vision exclusively through the koniocellular division of the lateral geniculate nucleus.

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