Gating and control of primary visual cortex by pulvinar

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Jun;15(6):905-12. doi: 10.1038/nn.3106.


The primary visual cortex (V1) receives its driving input from the eyes via the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the thalamus. The lateral pulvinar nucleus of the thalamus also projects to V1, but this input is not well understood. We manipulated lateral pulvinar neural activity in prosimian primates and assessed the effect on supra-granular layers of V1 that project to higher visual cortex. Reversibly inactivating lateral pulvinar prevented supra-granular V1 neurons from responding to visual stimulation. Reversible, focal excitation of lateral pulvinar receptive fields increased the visual responses in coincident V1 receptive fields fourfold and shifted partially overlapping V1 receptive fields toward the center of excitation. V1 responses to regions surrounding the excited lateral pulvinar receptive fields were suppressed. LGN responses were unaffected by these lateral pulvinar manipulations. Excitation of lateral pulvinar after LGN lesion activated supra-granular layer V1 neurons. Thus, lateral pulvinar is able to powerfully control and gate information outflow from V1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Primates
  • Pulvinar / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*