Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 June 2009
An important issue in understanding the function of primary visual cortex in the macaque monkey is how the several efferent neuron groups projecting to extrastriate cortex acquire their different response properties. To assist our understanding of this issue, we have compared the anatomical distribution of VI intrinsic relays that carry information derived from magno- (M) and parvocellular (P) divisions of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus between thalamic recipient neurons and interareal efferent neuron groups within area VI. We used small, iontophoretic injections of biocytin placed in individual cortical laminae of area VI to trace orthograde and retrograde inter- and intralaminar projections. In either the same or adjacent sections, the tissue was reacted for cytochrome oxidase (CO), which provides important landmarks for different efferent neuron populations located in CO rich blobs and CO poor interblobs in laminae ⅔, as well as defining clear boundaries for the populations of efferent neurons in laminae 4A and 4B. This study shows that the interblobs, but not the blobs, receive direct input from thalamic recipient 4C neurons; the interblobs receive relays from mid 4C neurons (believed to receive convergent M and P inputs), while blobs receive indirect inputs from either M or P (or both) pathways through layers 4B (which receives M relays from layer 4Cα) and 4A (which receives P relays directly from the thalamus as well as from layer 4Cβ). The property of orientation selectivity, most prominent in the interblob regions and in layer 4B, may have a common origin from oriented lateral projections made by mid 4C spiny stellate neurons. While layer 4B efferents may emphasize M characteristics and layer 4A efferents emphasize P characteristics, the dendrites of their constituent pyramidal neurons may provide anatomical access to the other channel since both blob and interblob regions in layers ⅔ have anatomical access to M and P driven relays, despite functional differences in the way these properties may be expressed in the two compartments.