Alterations in response properties in the lateral and dorsal terminal nuclei of the cat accessory optic system following visual cortex lesions

Exp Brain Res. 1984;55(1):69-80. doi: 10.1007/BF00240499.


The response properties of cells in the lateral (LTN) and dorsal (DTN) terminal nuclei of the accessory optic system (AOS) were examined in 14 cats which underwent unilateral visual cortex ablation. Following decortication, single units in the LTN and DTN no longer showed the high degree of binocular convergence characteristic of the intact animal, but instead LTN and DTN units became almost completely dominated by the contralateral eye. In addition, responsivity of LTN and DTN cells to high stimulus velocities was abolished by removal of cortical input. This decrement in high velocity response was observed in both the excitatory and the inhibitory components of the velocity response profile. While the incidence of direction selective neurons in both the LTN or the DTN was not affected by decortication, the distribution of preferred and nonpreferred directions was dramatically altered in the LTN, and to a lesser extent in the DTN. In the LTN, there was a severe reduction in the number of cells which displayed maximal excitation for upward stimulus motion. Instead, most LTN units in the decorticate cat preferred downward directed stimulus motion. In the DTN, most units still preferred horizontal stimulus motion as in the intact animal, but the overall distribution of preferred directions displayed a clear downward vertical vector component. In other respects, such as receptive field size and position in visual space, on/off responses, and resting discharge rate, LTN and DTN units appeared unaffected by cortical lesions. These experiments demonstrate that the cortical input to the LTN and DTN plays a highly significant role in the formation of response properties of cells located in these nuclei. The results presented in this report indicate that the visual cortex is a major source of ipsilateral eye input, high velocity responses, and upward direction selectivity for the AOS units examined in these experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Oculomotor Nerve / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology
  • Vestibular Nuclei / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology