Temporal Information Loss in the Macaque Early Visual System

PLoS Biol. 2020 Jan 23;18(1):e3000570. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000570. eCollection 2020 Jan.


Stimuli that modulate neuronal activity are not always detectable, indicating a loss of information between the modulated neurons and perception. To identify where in the macaque visual system information about periodic light modulations is lost, signal-to-noise ratios were compared across simulated cone photoreceptors, lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) neurons, and perceptual judgements. Stimuli were drifting, threshold-contrast Gabor patterns on a photopic background. The sensitivity of LGN neurons, extrapolated to populations, was similar to the monkeys' at low temporal frequencies. At high temporal frequencies, LGN sensitivity exceeded the monkeys' and approached the upper bound set by cone photocurrents. These results confirm a loss of high-frequency information downstream of the LGN. However, this loss accounted for only about 5% of the total. Phototransduction accounted for essentially all of the rest. Together, these results show that low temporal frequency information is lost primarily between the cones and the LGN, whereas high-frequency information is lost primarily within the cones, with a small additional loss downstream of the LGN.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Edinger-Westphal Nucleus / cytology
  • Edinger-Westphal Nucleus / physiology
  • Edinger-Westphal Nucleus / radiation effects
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Geniculate Bodies / cytology
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology
  • Light
  • Lighting
  • Macaca fascicularis / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / radiation effects
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / radiation effects
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Cortex / cytology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / radiation effects
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / radiation effects
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / radiation effects

Grant support

Funding was provided by grants EY018849 from the National Eye Institute and OD010425 from the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.