Diverse visual features encoded in mouse lateral geniculate nucleus

J Neurosci. 2013 Mar 13;33(11):4642-56. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5187-12.2013.


The thalamus is crucial in determining the sensory information conveyed to cortex. In the visual system, the thalamic lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) is generally thought to encode simple center-surround receptive fields, which are combined into more sophisticated features in cortex, such as orientation and direction selectivity. However, recent evidence suggests that a more diverse set of retinal ganglion cells projects to the LGN. We therefore used multisite extracellular recordings to define the repertoire of visual features represented in the LGN of mouse, an emerging model for visual processing. In addition to center-surround cells, we discovered a substantial population with more selective coding properties, including direction and orientation selectivity, as well as neurons that signal absence of contrast in a visual scene. The direction and orientation selective neurons were enriched in regions that match the termination zones of direction selective ganglion cells from the retina, suggesting a source for their tuning. Together, these data demonstrate that the mouse LGN contains a far more elaborate representation of the visual scene than current models posit. These findings should therefore have a significant impact on our understanding of the computations performed in mouse visual cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Biophysics
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Geniculate Bodies / cytology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Indoles / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Versicans / metabolism
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Foxp2 protein, mouse
  • Indoles
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Vcan protein, mouse
  • Versicans
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • DAPI