Response properties of 252 single-units to visual, auditory, somatosensory and noxious stimulation were recorded by means of extracellular microelectrodes in the suprageniculate nucleus of anaesthetized, immobilized cats. Of the 141 units tested for modality properties the majority (n = 113, 80.1%) was found unimodal in the sense that stimuli of exclusively one sensory modality were able to elicit an activation of the unit. Twenty-four (17.0%) cells were bimodal and four (2.8%) were trimodal (visual, somatosensory and auditory). The visual modality dominated the unimodal cells (n = 74, 65.5%), while cells responsive to somatic stimulation (n = 20, 17.6%), auditory stimulation (n = 16, 14.1%) or noxious stimulation of the tooth pulp (n = 3, 2.6%) were less frequently encountered. Visual sensitivity dominated the multisensory cells, too. The visually responsive units were characterized by having a sensitivity to stimuli moving in a rather large, uniform receptive field that covered the contralateral lower quadrant, and encompassed a flanking area of about 20 degrees width in both the upper contralateral and lower ipsilateral visual fields. Many cells (n = 52, 47%) were sensitive to the direction of the stimulation and reacted to stimuli moving at a high velocity (20-200 deg/s). Most cells responded differently to stimuli of a variety of sizes. Somatosensory units reacted to stimuli presented over a wide area on the contralateral side of the body, thus showing no sign of somatotopic organization. The auditory sensitivity fell within a wide range of acoustic stimuli in extremely large auditory receptive fields. The physiological properties of suprageniculate nucleus cells strongly resemble the sensory properties of cells found along the ventral bank of the anterior ectosylvian sulcus and the deeper layers of the superior colliculus. Our results provide further support for the notion of a separate tecto-suprageniculate-anterior ectosylvian sulcus/insular pathway that takes part in the processing of multimodal signals important for various types of sensory related behaviours.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes