A Comparison of Visual Response Properties in the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus and Primary Visual Cortex of Awake and Anesthetized Mice

J Neurosci. 2016 Nov 30;36(48):12144-12156. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1741-16.2016.


The cerebral cortex of the mouse has become one of the most important systems for studying information processing and the neural correlates of behavior. Multiple studies have examined the first stages of visual cortical processing: primary visual cortex (V1) and its thalamic inputs from the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN), but more rarely in the lateral posterior nucleus (LP) in mice. Multiple single-unit surveys of dLGN and V1, both with electrophysiology and two-photon calcium imaging, have described receptive fields in anesthetized animals. Increasingly, awake animals are being used in physiological studies, so it is important to compare neuronal responses between awake and anesthetized state. We have performed a comprehensive survey of spatial and temporal response properties in V1, dLGN, and lateral posterior nucleus of both anesthetized and awake animals, using a common set of stimuli: drifting sine-wave gratings spanning a broad range of spatial and temporal parameters, and sparse noise stimuli consisting of flashed light and dark squares. Most qualitative receptive field parameters were found to be unchanged between the two states, such as most aspects of spatial processing, but there were significant differences in several parameters, most notably in temporal processing. Compared with anesthetized animals, the temporal frequency that evoked the peak response was shifted toward higher values in the dLGN of awake mice and responses were more sustained. Further, the peak response to a flashed stimulus was earlier in all three areas. Overall, however, receptive field properties in the anesthetized animal remain a good model for those in the awake animal.

Significance statement: The primary visual cortex (V1) of the mouse and its inputs from visual thalamus (dLGN), have become a dominant model for studying information processing in the brain. Early surveys of visual response properties (receptive fields) were performed in anesthetized animals. Although most recent studies of V1 have been performed in awake animals to examine links between vision and behavior, there have been few comprehensive studies of receptive field properties in the awake mouse, especially in dLGN and lateral posterior nucleus. We have performed a comparative survey of receptive fields in dLGN, lateral posterior nucleus, and V1 in anesthetized and awake mice. We found multiple differences in processing of time-varying stimuli, whereas the spatial aspects of receptive fields remain comparatively unchanged.

Keywords: LGN; LP; anesthesia; mouse; visual cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Geniculate Bodies / drug effects
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Cortex / drug effects
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / drug effects
  • Wakefulness / physiology*


  • Anesthetics