Lack of robust LGN label following transneuronal rabies virus injections into macaque area V4



In primates, retinal inputs are relayed through the magno- and parvocells of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) indirectly to extrastriate visual cortex. The most direct pathway identified to the extrastriate cortex is a disynaptic one that provides robust magno- and parvocellular inputs to the middle temporal area (MT). The inclusion of parvocells in this projection is somewhat surprising because of their importance for color and form vision, whereas MT is more strictly tuned to velocity. This raises the question of whether areas more involved in color and form processing, such as V4, receive similar projections. We report here on experiments that use rabies virus injections into V4 to retrogradely label mono- and disynaptic inputs. We find only a small number of labeled neurons in the LGN in a pattern consistent with monosynaptic labeling of koniocells, rather than disynaptic labeling of magno- and parvocells. The lack of robust magno- and parvocellular label was not due to ineffective viral transport because in the same cases we find hundreds of neurons labeled in the thalamic reticular nucleus, a structure that can only be labeled disynaptically from the cortex. We also find a complete absence of neurons labeled in V1, but thousands in adjacent areas V2 and V3. This result helps explain the absence of labeled magno- and parvocells in the LGN because disynaptic transport from an extrastriate visual area should require a relay through V1. Taken together, these results suggest that ascending magno/parvocellular inputs to V4 are more hierarchically organized than the relatively direct inputs to MT. J. Comp. Neurol. 520:2500–2511, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.