Effects of cortical feedback on the spatial properties of relay cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus.

Journal of neurophysiology

PubMedID: 23100142

Andolina IM, Jones HE, Sillito AM. Effects of cortical feedback on the spatial properties of relay cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus. J Neurophysiol. 2013;109(3):889-99.
Feedback connections to early-level sensory neurons have been shown to affect many characteristics of their neural response. Because selectivity for stimulus size is a fundamental property of visual neurons, we examined the summation tuning and discretely mapped receptive field (RF) properties of cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) both with and without feedback from visual cortex. Using extracellular recording in halothane-anesthetized cats, we used small luminance probes displaced in Cartesian coordinates to measure discrete response area, and optimal sinusoidal gratings of varying diameter to estimate preferred optimal summation size and level of center-surround antagonism. In conditions where most cortical feedback was pharmacologically removed, discretely mapped RF response areas showed an overall significant enlargement for the population compared with control conditions. A switch to increased levels of burst firing, spatially displaced from the RF center, suggested this was mediated by changes in excitatory-inhibitory balance across visual space. With the use of coextensive stimulation, there were overall highly significant increases in the optimal summation size and reduction of surround antagonism with removal of cortical feedback in the LGN. When fitted with a difference-of-Gaussian (DOG) model, changes in the center size, center amplitude, and surround amplitude parameters were most significantly related to the removal of cortical feedback. In summary, corticothalamic innervation of the visual thalamus can modify spatial summation properties in LGN relay cells, an effect most parsimoniously explained by changes in the excitatory-inhibitory balance.