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The dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) transmits visual signals from the retina to the cortex. In the dLGN the antagonism between the centre and the surround of the receptive fields is increased through intrageniculate inhibitory mechanisms. Furthermore, the transmission of signals through the dLGN is modulated in a state-dependent manner by input from various brainstem nuclei including an area in the parabrachial region (PBR) containing cholinergic cells involved in the regulation of arousal and sleep. Here, we studied the effects of increased PBR input on the spatial receptive field properties of cells in the dLGN. We made simultaneous single-unit recordings of the input to the cells from the retina (S-potentials) and the output of the cells to the cortex (action potentials) to determine spatial receptive field modifications generated in the dLGN. State-dependent modulation of the spatial receptive field properties was studied by electrical stimulation of the PBR. The results showed that PBR stimulation had only a minor effect on the modifications of the spatial receptive field properties generated in the dLGN. The PBR-evoked effects could be described mainly as increased response gain. This suggested that the spatial modifications of the receptive field occurred at an earlier stage of processing in the dLGN than the PBR-controlled gain regulation, such that the PBR input modulates the gain of the spatially modified signals. We propose that the spatial receptive field modifications occur at the input to relay cells through the synaptic triades between retinal afferents, inhibitory interneurone dendrites, and relay cell dendrites and that the gain regulation is related to postsynaptic cholinergic effects on the relay cells.