Interrelations of the rat's thalamic reticular and dorsal lateral geniculate nuclei

Exp Brain Res. 1982;45(1-2):217-29. doi: 10.1007/BF00235781.


Electrophysiological and neuroanatomical techniques have been used to study the properties of cells in the reticular nucleus of the thalamus (RNT) responsive to photic stimuli. In the rat these cells are located in a discrete region of the nucleus lying immediately rostral to the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGNd), where the visual field is represented in a retinotopic fashion. After injections of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) into this area, neurones labelled with reaction product were found in the LGNd and not in other thalamic relay nuclei. After HRP injections into the LGNd, labelled RNT cells were found only within the region which contains neurones responsive to photic stimuli. These observations suggest that there is a precise reciprocal relation between the two areas. Studies and comparisons of the responses of relay cells (P cells) in LGNd and cells in RNT to electrical shocks lead us to conclude that RNT cells receive their excitation mainly via those relay cells in LGNd which are themselves excited by fast-conducting retinal ganglion cell axons. Such cells in LGNd have phasic responses and concentric receptive fields while RNT cells have phasic responses and on/off fields and a comparison of the receptive field sizes of P cells and RNT cells suggests that only a small number of LGNd relay cells converge on to each RNT cells. Further, although a particular functional class of relay cells in LGNd (Y-type) is shown to provide the major input to visually responsive RNT cells, both Y type and W type relay cells are subject to their inhibitory control. These results furnish evidence that cells in the RNT have an important role in modulating the flow of visual information from the LGNd to cortex.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / cytology
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity
  • Thalamus / physiology*
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Perception*


  • Horseradish Peroxidase