Key words Nucleus lentiformis mesencephali
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The receptive field (RF) properties of visual neurons extracellularly recorded from the nucleus lentiformis mesencephali (nLM) in pigeons (Columba livia) were quantitatively analyzed using a workstation computer. These cells were actively spontaneous, and direction- and velocity-selective. Using spatial gratings as visual stimuli, these cells could be divided into three groups: uni- (74%), bi- (17%), and omnidirectional (9%) cells in terms of their directionality. On the basis of their velocity selectivity, they could be named slow cells (84%), preferring low velocity (0.1–11°/s), and fast cells (14%), preferring rapid motion (34–67°/s), with one cell (2%) responding maximally to an intermediate velocity of 18°/s. These two properties were correlated in the way that all unidirectionals were slow cells, omnidirectionals were fast cells, and bidirectionals were either slow or fast cells including the intermediate cell. Using small targets as visual stimuli, it was found that the majority of cells examined had RFs that each consisted of an excitatory RF (ERF) and an inhibitory RF (IRF) that overlapped. The unidirectionals were mainly of this type of RF structure, whereas the omnidirectionals apparently had ERFs alone. The direction preference of ERF was opposite to that of IRF for unidirectional cells tested, whereas they were perpendicular to each other for one bidirectional cell. The overall responses of these cells resulted from interaction between excitation and inhibition induced by directionally different motion. Under certain conditions, visual responses of a particular cells to a small target moving through its ERF were equal in responsive strength to those to whole-field gratings swept over the screen. It was suggested that optokinetic nystagmus produced by whole-field gratings results from population activity of large group(s) of neurons in some optokinetic nuclei, at least one of which is nLM.
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