Nonlinear computations shaping temporal processing of precortical vision

J Neurophysiol. 2016 Sep 1;116(3):1344-57. doi: 10.1152/jn.00878.2015. Epub 2016 Jun 22.


Computations performed by the visual pathway are constructed by neural circuits distributed over multiple stages of processing, and thus it is challenging to determine how different stages contribute on the basis of recordings from single areas. In the current article, we address this problem in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), using experiments combined with nonlinear modeling capable of isolating various circuit contributions. We recorded cat LGN neurons presented with temporally modulated spots of various sizes, which drove temporally precise LGN responses. We utilized simultaneously recorded S-potentials, corresponding to the primary retinal ganglion cell (RGC) input to each LGN cell, to distinguish the computations underlying temporal precision in the retina from those in the LGN. Nonlinear models with excitatory and delayed suppressive terms were sufficient to explain temporal precision in the LGN, and we found that models of the S-potentials were nearly identical, although with a lower threshold. To determine whether additional influences shaped the response at the level of the LGN, we extended this model to use the S-potential input in combination with stimulus-driven terms to predict the LGN response. We found that the S-potential input "explained away" the major excitatory and delayed suppressive terms responsible for temporal patterning of LGN spike trains but revealed additional contributions, largely PULL suppression, to the LGN response. Using this novel combination of recordings and modeling, we were thus able to dissect multiple circuit contributions to LGN temporal responses across retina and LGN, and set the foundation for targeted study of each stage.

Keywords: computation; model; precision; retinogeniculate; temporal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Microelectrodes
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*