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Pharmacological inactivation of pretectal nuclei reveals different modulatory effects on retino-geniculate transmission by X and Y cells in the cat

  • Klaus Funke (a1) and Ulf T. Eysel (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

The modulatory influence of pretectal neurons on retino-geniculate transmission in the cat was studied by cross-correlation analysis of single-unit activity simultaneously recorded from the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) and the pretectum (PT) and with reversible inactivation of the PT by GABA microiontophoresis during simultaneous visual stimulation of PT and dLGN neurons. Visually induced population activity in PT nuclei was achieved by a moving (or counterphasing) grating which was presented in the background of the light spot used to stimulate the dLGN neuron. As a control, the light spot was presented on a stationary grating to avoid stimulation of PT neurons but to yield the same illumination of the background. Extracellularly recorded dLGN relay cells of the X- and Y-type were found to be differentially affected by the PT-dLGN projection. During visual stimulation of PT cells, X cells were strongly inhibited and this effect was significantly reduced during PT inactivation. By contrast, the visual responses of most Y cells were affected neither by PT stimulation nor by PT inactivation. In addition, the temporal structure of spike patterns during the light response was examined with autocorrelograms and spike-interval distributions. X-on cells often exhibited a multimodal interval distribution and oscillatory type of activity. During stimulation of the PT interval distributions changed in a characteristic manner and oscillations disappeared. Both effects could be almost totally cancelled by PT inactivation. By contrast, the temporal structure of Y-cell responses was not affected. Our results demonstrate for the first time a pretectal modulation of retino-geniculate transmission in cat dLGN which is clearly different for X and Y cells. This influence seems to be mediated via (inhibitory) interneurons, since we found no indication for a direct coupling between PT and dLGN units. This projection might contribute to the well-known phenomenon of saccadic suppression.

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Visual Neuroscience
  • ISSN: 0952-5238
  • EISSN: 1469-8714
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