Visual receptive fields in the striate-recipient zone of the lateral posterior-pulvinar complex

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Neuroscience








The lateral posterior (LP)-pulvinar complex of the cat is known to contain multiple visual areas. In the present study, we examined the receptive field properties of single neurons isolated in the lateral division of this complex (the LPI). The LPI is designated the striate-recipient zone because it is the only region of the LP-pulvinar receiving cortical projections from areas 17 and 18. The recordings revealed that the striate-recipient zone of LP comprises 2 subareas, which we have termed LPI-1 and LPI-2. In the main segment (LPI-1), virtually all cells responded securely to visual stimuli. The vast majority of these neurons were binocular, with relatively small and well-defined receptive fields. More than half of the cells were found to be directionally selective, and almost this many were orientation specific. The orientation tuning of these cells was found to be quite precise, comparable to complex cells in area 17. In contrast, in the small dorsolateral segment of the striate-recipient zone (the LPI-2), a substantial proportion of cells could not be visually activated. Here, the visual cells had very large receptive fields, and relatively few were direction or orientation selective. The LPI-2 receives subcortical inputs from the superficial layers of the superior colliculus, the hypothalamus, and cerebellum, while the LPI-1 is innervated only by cortical axons. It is suggested that the subcortical connections of the LPI-2 account for the differences in the response properties of the 2 striate-recipient areas. The present results, in conjunction with our previous findings on the principal tectorecipient zone (Chalupa et al., 1983), permit 2 generalizations regarding the functional organization of the cat's LP-pulvinar complex. First, there are clear differences among the visual areas of the LP-pulvinar in the cellular processing of visual information. Second, these functional differences can be related to the principal sources of visual input to the various divisions of the LP-pulvinar.

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