Sunday, July 5, 2009

Neural activity in the visual thalamus reflects perceptual suppression

Wilke M, Mueller KM, Leopold DA
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jun 9;106(23):9465-70

To examine the role of the visual thalamus in perception, we recorded neural activity in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) and pulvinar of 2 macaque monkeys during a visual illusion that induced the intermittent perceptual suppression of a bright luminance patch. Neural responses were sorted on the basis of the trial-to-trial visibility of the stimulus, as reported by the animals. We found that neurons in the dorsal and ventral pulvinar, but not the LGN, showed changes in spiking rate according to stimulus visibility. Passive viewing control sessions showed such modulation to be independent of the monkeys' active report. Perceptual suppression was also accompanied by a marked drop in low-frequency power (9-30 Hz) of the local field potential (LFP) throughout the visual thalamus, but this modulation was not observed during passive viewing. Our findings demonstrate that visual responses of pulvinar neurons reflect the perceptual awareness of a stimulus, while those of LGN neurons do not.

PMID: 19458249

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