Retinotopic mapping of lateral geniculate nucleus in humans using functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Subcortical nuclei in the thalamus, which play an important role in many functions of the human brain, provide challenging targets for functional mapping with neuroimaging techniques because of their small sizes and deep locations. In this study, we explore the capability of high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging at 4 Tesla for mapping the retinotopic organization in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). Our results show that the hemifield visual stimulation only activates LGN in the contralateral hemisphere, and the lower-field and upper-field visual stimulations activate the superior and inferior portion of LGN, respectively. These results reveal a similar retinotopic organization between the human and nonhuman primate LGN and between LGN and the primary visual cortex. We conclude that high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging is capable of functional mapping of suborganizations in small nuclei together with cortical activation. This will have an impact for studying the thalamocortical networks in the human brain. (+info
Accurate memory for colour but not pattern contrast in chicks.
The visual displays of animals and plants often look dramatic and colourful to us, but what information do they convey to their intended, non-human, audience  ? One possibility is that stimulus values are judged accurately - so, for example, a female might choose a suitor if he displays a specific colour . Alternatively, as for human advertising, displays may attract attention without giving information, perhaps by exploiting innate preferences for bright colours or symmetry   . To address this issue experimentally, we investigated chicks' memories of visual patterns. Food was placed in patterned paper containers which, like seed pods or insect prey, must be manipulated to extract food and their patterns learnt. To establish what was learnt, birds were tested on familiar stimuli and on alternative stimuli of differing colour or contrast. For colour, birds selected the trained stimulus; for contrast, they preferred high contrast patterns over the familiar. These differing responses to colour and contrast show how separate components of display patterns could serve different roles, with colour being judged accurately whereas pattern contrast attracts attention. (+info
Cone signal contributions to electroretinograms [correction of electrograms] in dichromats and trichromats.
PURPOSE: To find out how the different cone types contribute to the electroretinogram (ERG) by quantifying the contribution of the signal pathways originating in the long (L-) and the middle (M-) wavelength-sensitive cones to the total ERG response amplitude and phase. METHODS: ERG response amplitudes and phases were measured to cone-isolating stimuli and to different combinations of L- and M-cone modulation. Conditions were chosen to exclude any contribution of the short wavelength-sensitive (S-) cones. The sensitivity of the ERG to the L and the M cones was defined as the cone contrast gain. RESULTS: In the present paper, a model is provided that describes the ERG contrast gains and ERG thresholds in dichromats and color normal trichromats. For the X-chromosome-linked dichromats, the contrast gains of only one cone type (either the L or the M cones) sufficed to describe the ERG thresholds for all stimulus conditions. Data suggest that the M-cone contrast gains of protanopes are larger than the L-cone contrast gains of deuteranopes. The response thresholds of the trichromats are modeled by assuming a vector summation of signals originating in the L and the M cones. Their L- and M-cone contrast gains are close to a linear interpolation of the data obtained from the dichromats. Nearly all trichromats had larger L- than M-cone contrast gains. Data from a large population of trichromats were examined to study the individual variations in cone weightings and in the phases of the cone pathway responses. CONCLUSIONS: The data strongly suggest that the missing cone type in dichromats is replaced by the remaining cone type. The mean L-cone to M-cone weighting ratio in trichromats was found to be approximately 4:1. But there is a substantial interindividual variability between trichromats. The response phases of the L- and the M-cone pathways can be reliably quantified using the response phases to the cone-isolating stimuli or using a vector addition of L- and M-cone signals. (+info
Chromatic masking in the (delta L/L, delta M/M) plane of cone-contrast space reveals only two detection mechanisms.
The post-receptoral mechanisms that mediate detection of stimuli in the (delta L/L, delta M/M) plane of color space were characterized using noise masking. Chromatic masking noises of different chromaticities and spatial configurations were used, and threshold contours for the detection of Gaussian and Gabor tests were measured. The results do not show masking that is narrowly-selective for the chromaticity of the noise. On the contrary, our findings suggest that detection of these tests is mediated only by an opponent chromatic mechanism (a red-green mechanism) and a non-opponent luminance mechanism. These results are not consistent with the hypothesis of multiple chromatic mechanisms mediating detection in this color plane . (+info
Temporal analysis of the chromatic flash VEP--separate colour and luminance contrast components.
Temporal analysis of the chromatic flash visual evoked potential (VEP) was studied in human subjects with normal and anomalous colour vision using a deterministic pseudo-random binary stimulus (VERIS). Five experiments were carried out on four normal subjects investigating heterochromatic red-green exchange and single colour/achromatic (either red/grey or green/grey) exchange over a wide range of luminance ratios for the two stimuli, the effects of lowered mean luminance on the chromatic VEP and the effects of colour desaturation at constant mean luminance and constant luminance contrast. Finally, the performance of three dichromats, a protanope and two deuteranopes, on heterochromatic exchange VEP and on colour desaturation were investigated. In contrast to the chromatic electroretinogram, which shows great symmetry with respect to luminance ratio on opposite sides of the isoluminant point, the chromatic VEP demonstrated a distinct asymmetry when the colours exchanged included red. On the red side of isoluminance (red more luminant than green), a wave with longer latency and altered waveform became dominant. The effects of green stimulation were indistinguishable from those of achromatic stimulation at the same luminance contrast over the whole range of chromatic contrast and for all levels of desaturation studied. Desaturation of red with constant luminance contrast (desaturated red/grey stimulation) resulted in a systematic alteration in the evoked waveform. Subtraction of the achromatic first- and second-order responses from responses recorded in the red desaturation series resulted in remarkably uniform waveforms, with peak amplitudes growing linearly with saturation. The absence of interaction between achromatic and coloured components for all (including the most intense colour) stimulus parameters used suggests that the generators of these components are separate. Recordings from the dichromats showed that the contrast response minimum shifted from the point of photopic isoluminance to the point of zero cone contrast (at the silent substitution point) for the remaining cone type. The waveforms recorded with a series of luminance ratios were much simpler than those recorded from trichromats and symmetrical with respect to their isoluminant points. Despite the indication of the presence of L cones of apparently normal spectral sensitivity in the deuteranopes (on the basis of flicker photometry), there was no evidence for a red-sensitive component in the desaturation or heterochromatic stimulation series. The results are discussed in terms of the possibility of separate generation of chromatic and achromatic contributions to the VEP. (+info
An ultraviolet absorbing pigment causes a narrow-band violet receptor and a single-peaked green receptor in the eye of the butterfly Papilio.
The distal photoreceptors in the tiered retina of Papilio exhibit different spectral sensitivities. There are at least two types of short-wavelength sensitive receptors: an ultraviolet receptor with a normal spectral shape and a violet receptor with a very narrow spectral bandwidth. Furthermore, a blue receptor, a double-peaked green receptor and a single-peaked green receptor exist. The violet receptor and single-peaked green receptor are only found in ommatidia that fluoresce under ultraviolet illumination. About 28% of the ommatidia in the ventral half of the retina exhibit the UV-induced fluorescence. The fluorescence originates from an ultraviolet-absorbing pigment, located in the most distal 70 microns of the ommatidium, that acts as an absorption filter, both for a UV visual pigment, causing the narrow spectral sensitivity of the violet receptor, and for a green visual pigment, causing a single-peaked green receptor. (+info
S-cone signals to temporal OFF-channels: asymmetrical connections to postreceptoral chromatic mechanisms.
Psychophysical tests of S-cone contributions to temporal ON- and OFF-channels were conducted. Detection thresholds for S-cone modulation were measured with two kinds of test stimuli presented on a CRT: a rapid-on sawtooth test and a rapid-off sawtooth test, assumed to be detected differentially by temporal ON- and OFF-channels, respectively. S-cone related ON- and OFF-temporal responses were separated by adapting for 5 min to 1 Hz monochromatic (420, 440, 450, 540, or 650 nm in separate sessions) sawtooth flicker presented in Maxwellian view. Circular test stimuli, with a sawtooth temporal profile and a Gaussian spatial taper, were presented for 1 s in one of four quadrants 1.0 degree from a central fixation point. A four-alternative forced-choice method combined with a double-staircase procedure was used to determine ON- and OFF-thresholds in the same session. Following adaptation, the threshold elevation was greater if the polarity of the test stimulus was the same as the polarity of the sawtooth adaptation flicker, consistent with separate ON- and OFF-responses from S-cones. This asymmetrical pattern was obtained, however, only when the adaptation stimuli appeared blue with a little redness. When the adaptation flicker had a clear reddish hue component, the threshold elevation did not depend on the polarity of the sawtooth test stimuli. These results are consistent with a model in which OFF-signals originating from S cones are maintained by a postreceptoral mechanism signaling redness, but not by a postreceptoral chromatic mechanism signaling blueness. (+info
Mutually exclusive expression of human red and green visual pigment-reporter transgenes occurs at high frequency in murine cone photoreceptors.
This study examines the mechanism of mutually exclusive expression of the human X-linked red and green visual pigment genes in their respective cone photoreceptors by asking whether this expression pattern can be produced in a mammal that normally carries only a single X-linked visual pigment gene. To address this question, we generated transgenic mice that carry a single copy of a minimal human X chromosome visual pigment gene array in which the red and green pigment gene transcription units were replaced, respectively, by alkaline phosphatase and beta-galactosidase reporters. As determined by histochemical staining, the reporters are expressed exclusively in cone photoreceptor cells. In 20 transgenic mice carrying any one of three independent transgene insertion events, an average of 63% of expressing cones have alkaline phosphatase activity, 10% have beta-galactosidase activity, and 27% have activity for both reporters. Thus, mutually exclusive expression of red and green pigment transgenes can be achieved in a large fraction of cones in a dichromat mammal, suggesting a facile evolutionary path for the development of trichromacy after visual pigment gene duplication. These observations are consistent with a model of visual pigment expression in which stochastic pairing occurs between a locus control region and either the red or the green pigment gene promotor. (+info