Dynamics Of Temporal Integration In The Lateral Geniculate Nucleus

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Before visual information from the retina reaches primary visual cortex (V1), it is dynamically filtered by the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the thalamus, the first location within the visual hierarchy at which nonretinal structures can significantly influence visual processing. To explore the form and dynamics of geniculate filtering we used data from monosynpatically connected pairs of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and LGN relay cells in the cat that, under anesthetized conditions, were stimulated with binary white noise and/or drifting sine-wave gratings to train models of increasing complexity to predict which RGC spikes were relayed to cortex, what we call “relay status.” In addition, we analyze and compare a smaller dataset recorded in the awake state to assess how anesthesia might influence our results. Consistent with previous work, we find that the preceding retinal interspike interval (ISI) is the primary determinate of relay status with only modest contributions from longer patterns of retinal spikes. Including the prior activity of the LGN cell further improved model predictions, primarily by indicating epochs of geniculate burst activity in recordings made under anesthesia, and by allowing the model to capture gain control-like behavior within the awake LGN. Using the same modeling framework, we further demonstrate that the form of geniculate filtering changes according to the level of activity within the early visual circuit under certain stimulus conditions. This finding suggests a candidate mechanism by which a stimulus specific form of gain control may operate within the LGN.

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