Corticofugal feedback influences the generation of length tuning in the visual pathway

Nature. 1987 Oct 22-28;329(6141):727-9. doi: 10.1038/329727a0.


In the feline visual system, neurons exhibiting sensitivity to the length of a moving contour were first observed in the cortex and described as 'hypercomplex cells'. In these cells an increase in stimulus length beyond an optimal value leads to a rapid decline in response. This decline has been attributed to an intracortical inhibitory input which may be driven by layer VI cells with very long receptive fields. It is now clear, however, that cells in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN), exhibit a degree of length tuning similar to that of cortical 'hypercomplex cells', suggesting that this response property could be generated subcortically. Alternatively, as the dLGN receives a massive corticofugal projection from layer VI cells in the visual cortex, it is possible that this input has a function in generating length tuning in the dLGN. We have investigated this issue by comparing the length tuning of dLGN cells with and without corticofugal feedback. The data show that corticofugal feedback makes a highly significant contribution to the length tuning of dLGN cells. This raises the possibility that length tuning is an emergent property of the geniculo-cortical loop.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cats
  • Feedback
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*