Overlapping visual response latency distributions in visual cortices and LP-pulvinar complex of the cat
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The visual system of the cat is considered to be organized in both a serial and parallel manner. Studies of visual onset latencies generally suggest that parallel processing occurs throughout the dorsal stream. These studies are at odds with the proposed hierarchies of visual areas based on termination patterns of cortico-cortical projections. In previous studies, a variety of stimuli have been used to compute latencies, and this is problematic as latencies are known to depend on stimulus parameters. This could explain the discrepancy between latency and neuroanatomical based studies. Therefore, the first aim of the present study was to determine whether latencies increased along the hierarchy of visual areas when the same stimuli are used. In addition, the effect of stimulus complexity was assessed. Visual onset latencies were calculated for area 17, PMLS, AMLS, and AEV neurons. Latencies were also computed from neurons in the lateral posterior (LP)-pulvinar complex given the importance of this extrageniculate complex in cortical intercommunication. Latency distributions from all regions overlapped substantially, and no significant difference was present, regardless of the type of stimulus used. The onset latencies in the LP-pulvinar complex were comparable to those seen in cortical areas. The data suggest that the initial processing of information in the visual system is parallel, despite the presence of a neuroanatomical hierarchy. Simultaneous response onsets among cortical areas and the LP-pulvinar suggest that the latter is more than a simple relay station for information headed to cortex. The data are consistent with proposals of the LP-pulvinar as a center for the integration and distribution of information from/to multiple cortical areas.
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