Spatiotemporal profiles of receptive fields of neurons in the lateral posterior nucleus of the cat LP-pulvinar complex

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Oct;114(4):2390-403. doi: 10.1152/jn.00649.2015. Epub 2015 Aug 19.


The pulvinar is the largest extrageniculate thalamic visual nucleus in mammals. It establishes reciprocal connections with virtually all visual cortexes and likely plays a role in transthalamic cortico-cortical communication. In cats, the lateral posterior nucleus (LP) of the LP-pulvinar complex can be subdivided in two subregions, the lateral (LPl) and medial (LPm) parts, which receive a predominant input from the striate cortex and the superior colliculus, respectively. Here, we revisit the receptive field structure of LPl and LPm cells in anesthetized cats by determining their first-order spatiotemporal profiles through reverse correlation analysis following sparse noise stimulation. Our data reveal the existence of previously unidentified receptive field profiles in the LP nucleus both in space and time domains. While some cells responded to only one stimulus polarity, the majority of neurons had receptive fields comprised of bright and dark responsive subfields. For these neurons, dark subfields' size was larger than that of bright subfields. A variety of receptive field spatial organization types were identified, ranging from totally overlapped to segregated bright and dark subfields. In the time domain, a large spectrum of activity overlap was found, from cells with temporally coinciding subfield activity to neurons with distinct, time-dissociated subfield peak activity windows. We also found LP neurons with space-time inseparable receptive fields and neurons with multiple activity periods. Finally, a substantial degree of homology was found between LPl and LPm first-order receptive field spatiotemporal profiles, suggesting a high integration of cortical and subcortical inputs within the LP-pulvinar complex.

Keywords: cortico-thalamo-cortical pathways; electrophysiology; reverse correlation; thalamus; visual system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Lateral Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*
  • Microelectrodes
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*