Conduction velocity distribution of the retinal input to the hamster's superior colliculus and a correlation with receptive field characteristics

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Comparative Neurology








Cells driven reliably by shocks delivered to the optic nerve or optic chiasm were encountered throughout the depth of the colliculus. The incidence of such cells, however, decreased markedly in the laminae ventral to the stratum opticum. The distribution of conduction velocities for the retinal afferents to the tectum was quite broad (range: 1.7‐25.5 m/sec) and clearly biomodal with peaks at about 6 and 12 m/sec. A small number of cells were innervated by rapidly (> 15 m/sec) conducting axons. No evidence of an indirect‐fast pathway from the retina to the colliculus via the lateral geniculate nucleus and visual cortex was obtained. Afferent conduction velocity was not correlated with retinal eccentricity, collicular depth or speed selectivity. It was, however, clearly related to directional selectivity. Ninety percent of the tectal neurons receiving inputs from axons having conduction velocities of less than 5 m/sec were directionally selective while only 41% of those neurons innervated by more rapidly conducting fibers (> 5 m/sec) exhibited selectivity. One hundred and sixteen cells in the anterior portion of the colliculus were tested with shocks delivered to the ipsilateral optic nerve and photic stimulation of the ipsilateral eye. Of these, 11% exhibited some degree of binocularity and only 6% were responsive to optic nerve shocks. These electrophysiological findings were correlated with the limited nature of the retinal input to the ipsilateral superior colliculus. Copyright © 1979 The Wistar Institute Press

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