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Vis Neurosci. 1998 Jan-Feb;15(1):15-25.

Thalamic control of cat lateral suprasylvian visual area: relation to patchy association projections from area 18.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign 61829, USA.


In this study, we examined functional contributions of major subdivisions of the lateral geniculate nucleus to the cat's lateral suprasylvian visual area (LS) in relation to the patchy horizontal distributions of association inputs. Multiple-unit activity driven via the contralateral eye was assessed during reversible blockade of the retinotopically corresponding part of layer A, the C layers as a group, or the medial interlaminar nucleus (MIN). Inactivating each of these targets reduced activity at some cortical sites, with inactivation of layer A having, on average, the largest effect. Activity was rarely abolished by inactivation of a single target, indicating that most LS sites receive multiple inputs. Dependence on layer A was strongly correlated with the horizontal distribution of association inputs from area 18. Closely spaced injections of anatomical tracers into extensive regions of area 18 resulted in patches of terminal label in lateral suprasylvian cortex. Activity inside the patches was relatively dependent on layer A, whereas that outside the patches was not. Dependence on the MIN and layer A were negatively correlated, suggesting that inputs dominated by the MIN and layer A were concentrated in independent sets of patches. These results indicate that the anatomically observed patchy projections reflect the functional consequences of geniculate lamination. The A layers are high-acuity relays, whereas the MIN is probably a specialization for dim-light vision (Lee et al., 1984; Lee et al., 1992). We propose that the partial overlap of inputs dominated by the A layers and the MIN allows dynamic shifts in their relative contributions to LS responses, optimizing the balance of high-acuity and high-sensitivity channels over a wide range of illumination conditions.

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