Transformation of receptive field properties from lateral geniculate nucleus to superficial V1 in the tree shrew

J Neurosci. 2013 Jul 10;33(28):11494-505. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1464-13.2013.


Tree shrew primary visual cortex (V1) exhibits a pronounced laminar segregation of inputs from different classes of relay neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). We examined how several receptive field (RF) properties were transformed from LGN to V1 layer 4 to V1 layer 2/3. The progression of RF properties across these stages differed markedly from that found in the cat. V1 layer 4 cells are largely similar to the the LGN cells that provide their input, being dominated by a single sign (ON or OFF) and being strongly modulated by sinusoidal gratings. Some layer 4 neurons, notably those near the edges of layer 4, exhibited increased orientation selectivity, and most layer 4 neurons exhibited a preference for lower temporal frequencies. Neurons in cortical layer 2/3 differ significantly from those in the LGN; most exhibited strong orientation tuning and both ON and OFF responses. The strength of orientation selectivity exhibited a notable sublaminar organization, with the strongest orientation tuned neurons in the most superficial parts of layer 2/3. Modulation indexes provide evidence for simple and complex cells in both layer 4 and layer 2/3. However, neurons with high modulation indexes were heterogenous in the spatial organization of ON and OFF responses, with many of them exhibiting unbalanced ON and OFF responses rather than well-segregated ON and OFF subunits. When compared to the laminar organization of V1 in other mammals, these data show that the process of natural selection can result in significantly altered structure/function relationships in homologous cortical circuits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Female
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Species Specificity
  • Tupaiidae
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*