Functional organization of owl monkey lateral geniculate nucleus and visual cortex

Lawrence P. O'Keefe, Jonathan B. Levitt, Daniel C. Kiper, Robert M. Shapley, J. Anthony Movshon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nocturnal, New World owl monkey (Aotus trivirgatus) has a rod- dominated retina containing only a single cone type, supporting only the most rudimentary color vision. However, it does have well-developed magnocellular (M) and parvocellular (P) retinostriate pathways and striate cortical architecture [as defined by the pattern of staining for the activity- dependent marker cytochrome oxidase (CO)] similar to that seen in diurnal primates. We recorded from single neurons in anesthetized, paralyzed owl monkeys using drifting, luminance-modulated sinusoidal gratings, comparing receptive field properties of M and P neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus and in V1 neurons assigned to CO 'blob,' 'edge,' and 'interblob' regions and across layers. Tested with achromatic stimuli, the receptive field properties of M and P neurons resembled those reported for other primates. The contrast sensitivity of P cells in the owl monkey was similar to that of P cells in the macaque, but the contrast sensitivities of M cells in the owl monkey were markedly lower than those in the macaque. We found no differences in eye dominance, orientation, or spatial frequency tuning, temporal frequency tuning, or contrast response for V1 neurons assigned to different CO compartments; we did find fewer direction-selective cells in blobs than in other compartments. We noticed laminar differences in some receptive field properties. Cells in the supragranular layers preferred higher spatial and lower temporal frequencies and had lower contrast sensitivity than did cells in the granular and infragranular layers. Our data suggest that the receptive field properties across functional compartments in V1 are quite homogeneous, inconsistent with the notion that CO blobs anatomically segregate signals from different functional 'streams'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-609
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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