Retinal projections to the lateral posterior-pulvinar complex in intact and early visual cortex lesioned cats.
ABSTRACT In intact cats, it is generally considered that the lateral posterior-pulvinar complex (LP-pulvinar) does not receive direct retinal terminals, with the exception of the retino-recipient zone known as the geniculate wing. There is, however, some evidence that early lesions of the visual cortex can occasionally induce the formation of novel retinal projections to the LP nucleus. Given the importance of knowing the connectivity pattern of the LP-pulvinar complex in intact and lesioned animals, we used the B fragment of cholera toxin, a sensitive anterograde tracer, to reinvestigate the retinal projections to the LP-pulvinar in normal cats and in cats with early unilateral lesions of the visual cortex (areas 17 and 18). Immunohistochemical localization of the toxin was performed to show the distribution and morphology of retinofugal terminals. A direct bilateral but predominantly contralateral retinal projection reached the caudal portion of LPl and LPm in the form of patches located mainly along its dorsomedial surface and many scattered terminals. The distribution of retinal projections to LP-pulvinar in intact and operated cats did not differ. Contrary to what had been previously reported, we found no evidence for lesion-induced sprouting of retinal axons in these higher-order thalamic nuclei. Retinal input to the LP-pulvinar might modulate visual responses driven by primary visual cortex or superior colliculus.