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Brainstem modulation of signal transmission through the cat dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus

Abstract

We studied changes in retinogeniculate transmission that occur during variation of modulatory brainstem input and during variation of stimulus contrast. Responses of single cells in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) to a stationary flashing light spot of varying contrast were measured with and without electrical stimulation of the peribrachial region (PBR) of the brain-stem. PBR stimulation increased the contrast gain (slope of response versus contrast curve) and the dynamic response range (range between spontaneous activity and maximal firing). Lagged and nonlagged X-cells reached the midpoint of the dynamic response range at lower contrasts during PBR stimulation than in the controls. No comparable change was seen for Y-cells. Only minor changes of threshold contrast were seen. The characteristics of the retinogeniculate transmission were directly studied by comparing the response of dLGN cells with their retinal input (slow potentials, S-potentials). With increasing contrast there was a marked increase in the transfer ratio (proportion of impulses in the input that generates action potentials in the dLGN cell). The transfer ratio seemed to be primarily determined by the firing rate of the retinal input. The transfer ratio increased with increasing input rates from low values near threshold to values that could approach 1 at high-input firing rates. PBR stimulation increased the transfer ratio, particularly at moderate input firing rates. The increased transfer ratio, caused by increasing input firing rates, enhanced the response versus contrast characteristics through an increase in contrast gain and dynamic response range. The modulatory input from the PBR further enhanced these characteristics.

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Hartveit, E., Heggelund, P. Brainstem modulation of signal transmission through the cat dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. Exp Brain Res 103, 372–384 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00241496

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Key words

  • Contrast gain
  • Lateral geniculate nucleus
  • Neuromodulation
  • Retinogeniculate transmission Lagged and nonlagged cells
  • Cat