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Keywords:

  • vision;
  • dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus;
  • pretectum;
  • electrical stimulation

Abstract

Single neurons in the pretectal nucleus of the optic tract and posterior pretectal nucleus were extracellularly recorded in anaesthetized cats and tested for antidromic activation after electrical stimulation of the ipsilateral dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. Cells were further characterized by their response latencies to electrical stimulation of the optic nerve head and the optic chiasm, and by responses to various visual stimuli. 46 out of 188 neurons (24%) were antidromically activated from the lateral geniculate nucleus at response latencies of 0.6 - 2.6 ms. They had low spontaneous activities and preferred fast-moving visual stimuli. 29 of the antidromically activated neurons (63%) could be activated from the optic chiasm with response latencies of 4–10 ms. Together with the mean conduction time of 0.8 ms between the optic nerve head and the optic chiasm, this indicates that they receive an indirect retinal input via fast-conducting Y-fibres. Sometimes antidromically activated neurons spontaneously showed irregular burst activity. During unidirectional stimulation with a large moving visual stimulus, burst activity became more regular, and interburst intervals and the duration of single bursts decreased. After the stimulus was stopped, interburst intervals slowly increased until prestimulation activity was restored. The response properties of these neurons could reflect the transfer of saccade-related visual as well as oculomotor signals through the pretectum to the visual thalamus.