Corticogeniculate feedback sharpens the temporal precision and spatial resolution of visual signals in the ferret [Neuroscience]
The corticogeniculate (CG) pathway connects the visual cortex with the visual thalamus (LGN) in the feedback direction and enables the cortex to directly influence its own input. Despite numerous investigations, the role of this feedback circuit in visual perception remained elusive. To probe the function of CG feedback in a causal manner, we selectively and reversibly manipulated the activity of CG neurons in anesthetized ferrets in vivo using a combined viral-infection and optogenetics approach to drive expression of channelrhodopsin2 (ChR2) in CG neurons. We observed significant increases in temporal precision and spatial resolution of LGN neuronal responses to drifting grating and white noise stimuli when CG neurons expressing ChR2 were light activated. Enhancing CG feedback reduced visually evoked response latencies, increased spike-timing precision, and reduced classical receptive field size. Increased precision among LGN neurons led to increased spike-timing precision among granular layer V1 neurons as well. Together, our findings suggest that the function of CG feedback is to control the timing and precision of thalamic responses to incoming visual signals.
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