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J Neurophysiol. 1995 Jun;73(6):2428-47.

Effects of brain stem parabrachial activation on receptive field properties of cells in the cat's lateral geniculate nucleus.

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Department of Neurobiology, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794-5230, USA.


1. The lateral geniculate nucleus is the primary thalamic relay for the transfer of retinal signals to the visual cortex. Geniculate cells are heavily innervated from nonretinal sources, and these modify retinogeniculate transmission. A major ascending projection to the lateral geniculate nucleus arises from cholinergic cells in the parabrachial region of the brain stem. This is an important pathway in the ascending control of arousal. In an in vivo preparation, we used extracellular recordings to study the effects of electrical activation of the parabrachial region on the spontaneous activity and visual responses of X and Y cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus of the cat. 2. We studied the effects of two patterns of parabrachial activation on the spontaneous activity of geniculate cells. Burst stimulation consisted of a short pulse at high frequency (16 ms at 250 Hz). Train stimulation was of longer duration at lower frequency (e.g., 1 s at 50 Hz). The firing rate of almost all geniculate cells was enhanced by either pattern of stimulation. However, the burst pattern of stimulation elicited a short, modulated response with excitatory and inhibitory epochs. We found that the different epochs could differentially modulate the visual responses to drifting gratings. Thus the temporal alignment of the brain stem and visual stimuli was critical with burst stimulation, and varied alignments could dramatically confound the results. In comparison, the train pattern of stimulation consistently produced a relatively flat plateau of increased firing, after a short initial period of more variable effects. We used the less confounding pattern of train stimuli to study the effects of parabrachial activation on visual responses. 3. Our main emphasis was to examine the parabrachial effects on the visual responses of geniculate cells. For most visual stimuli, we used drifting sine wave gratings that varied in spatial frequency; these evoked modulated responses from the geniculate cells. Parabrachial activation enhanced the visual responses of almost all geniculate cells, and this enhancement included both increased depth of modulation and greater response rates. 4. Our results were incorporated quantitatively into a difference-of-Gaussians model of visual receptive fields in order to study the parabrachial effects on the spatial structure of the receptive field. This model fit our data well and provided measures of the response amplitude and radius of the receptive field center (Kc and Rc, respectively) and the response amplitude and radius of the receptive field surround (Ks and Rs, respectively).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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