Contrast and Luminance Gain Control in the Macaque’s Lateral Geniculate Nucleus

R. T. Raghavan, Jenna G. Kelly, J. Michael Hasse, Paul G. Levy, Michael J. Hawken, J. Anthony Movshon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is substantial variation in the mean and variance of light levels (luminance and contrast) in natural visual scenes. Retinal ganglion cells maintain their sensitivity despite this variation using two adaptive mechanisms, which control how responses depend on luminance and on contrast. However, the nature of each mechanism and their in-teractions downstream of the retina are unknown. We recorded neurons in the magnocellular and parvocellular layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in anesthetized adult male macaques and characterized how their responses adapt to changes in contrast and luminance. As contrast increases, neurons in the magnocellular layers maintain sensitivity to high temporal frequency stimuli but attenuate sensitivity to low-temporal frequency stimuli. Neurons in the parvocellular layers do not adapt to changes in contrast. As luminance increases, both magnocellular and parvo-cellular cells increase their sensitivity to high-temporal frequency stimuli. Adaptation to luminance is independent of adaptation to contrast, as previously reported for LGN neurons in the cat. Our results are similar to those previously reported for macaque retinal ganglion cells, suggesting that adaptation to luminance and contrast result from two independent mechanisms that are retinal in origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberENEURO.0515-22.2023
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • LGN
  • contrast
  • gain control
  • luminance
  • temporal frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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