Functional modulation of primary visual cortex by the superior colliculus in the mouse

Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 25;9(1):3895. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06389-6.


The largest targets of retinal input in mammals are the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN), a relay to the primary visual cortex (V1), and the superior colliculus. V1 innervates and influences the superior colliculus. Here, we find that, in turn, superior colliculus modulates responses in mouse V1. Optogenetically inhibiting the superior colliculus reduces responses in V1 to optimally sized stimuli. Superior colliculus could influence V1 via its strong projection to the lateral posterior nucleus (LP/Pulvinar) or its weaker projection to the dLGN. Inhibiting superior colliculus strongly reduces activity in LP. Pharmacologically silencing LP itself, however, does not remove collicular modulation of V1. The modulation is instead due to a collicular gain modulation of the dLGN. Surround suppression operating in V1 explains the different effects for differently sized stimuli. Computations of visual saliency in the superior colliculus can thus influence tuning in the visual cortex via a tectogeniculate pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists / pharmacology
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Optogenetics
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pulvinar / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / drug effects
  • Visual Pathways / physiology


  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists
  • Muscimol