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J Comp Neurol. 1996 Feb 19;365(4):659-82.

Laminar and columnar patterns of geniculocortical projections in the cat: relationship to cytochrome oxidase.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


We examined the laminar and columnar arrangement of projections from different layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) to the visual cortex in the cat. In light of recent reports that cytochrome oxidase blobs (which in primates receive specific geniculate inputs) are also found in the visual cortex of cats, the relationship between cytochrome oxidase staining and geniculate inputs in this species was studied. Injections of wheat germ agglutinin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase were made into the anterior "genu" of the LGN, where isoelevation contours of the geniculate layers are distorted due to the curvature of the nucleus. Consequently, anterograde labeling from the various LGN layers was topographically separated across the surface of the cortex, and labeling in a particular isoelevation representation of the cortex could be associated with a specific layer of the LGN. Labeling from the A layers, which contain X and Y cells, was coextensive with layers 4 and 6 in both area 17 and area 18, as previously reported. Labeling from the C layers, which contain Y and W cells, occupied a zone extending from the 4a/4b border to part way into layer 3 in area 17. The labeling extended throughout layer 4 in area 18. There was also labeling in layer 5a and layer 1 in both area 17 and area 18. Except in layer 1, labeling from the C layers was patchy. In the tangential plane, adjacent sections stained for cytochrome oxidase showed that the patches of labeling from the C laminae aligned with the cytochrome oxidase blobs. The cytochrome blobs were visible in layers 3 and 4a, but not in layer 4b in both areas 17 and 18. These results suggest that W cells project specifically to the layer 3 portion of the blobs, while Y cells, at least those of the C layers, project specifically to the layer 4a portion of the blobs in area 17. The heavy synaptic drive of the Y cells is probably the cause of the elevated metabolism, and thus, higher cytochrome oxidase activity, of the blobs.

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