A comparison of the organization of the projections of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus, the inferior pulvinar and adjacent lateral pulvinar to primary visual cortex (area 17) in the macaque monkey

Brain Res. 1979 May 5;167(1):19-40. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(79)90260-9.


Both anterograde and retrograde transport tracing methods were used to study the organization of the projections of the dorsal lateral geniculate (DLG), the inferior pulvinar and subdivisions of the lateral pulvinar to primary visual cortex (striate cortex or area 17). The DLG projects only to striate cortex. These projections are retinotopically organized, and do not extend to any cortical layers above layer IVA. In contrast the inferior pulvinar (PI) and the immediately adjacent portion of the lateral pulvinar (PL alpha 48) project to both striate and prestriate cortex. The projections from these two thalamic areas to the striate cortex are also retinotopically organized and exist in parallel with those from the DLG. In contrast to the DLG, the projections from PI and PL alpha terminate above layer IVA in striate cortex, i.e. layers I, II and III. In prestriate cortex the layers of termination include layers IV, III and I. The pulvinar terminations in layers II and III of area 17 occur in segregated patches as do the geniculate terminations in layers IVC and IVA. On the other hand the pulvinar terminations in layer I which overlie those in layers II and III of area 17 appeared to be continuous. Control studies show that the remainder of the lateral pulvinar overlying PL alpha does not project to striate cortex. It is concluded that there are 3 visuotopically organized inputs from the lateral thalamus to primary visual cortex and that each of these inputs have different layers of termination. The inputs from PI and DLG can convey direct retinal inputs while those from PI and PL alpha can also be involved in intrinsic cortico-thalamocortical connection with prestriate cortex. It remains, then that it cannot be tacitly assumed that the ascending inputs which influence the response properties of the primary cortical neurons arise solely from the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. It is also argued that these inputs to the supragranular layers may be excitatory as those from the DLG to the IVth layer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Axonal Transport
  • Geniculate Bodies / anatomy & histology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Retina / anatomy & histology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology*


  • Horseradish Peroxidase