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The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is one of the principal input nuclei of the basal ganglia. Using electrophysiological techniques in anesthetized rats, we show that the STN becomes responsive to visual stimuli at short latencies when local disinhibitory injections are made into the midbrain superior colliculus (SC), an important subcortical visual structure. Significantly, only injections into the lateral, but not medial, deep layers of the SC were effective. Corresponding disinhibition of primary visual cortex also was ineffective. Complementary anatomical analyses revealed a strong, regionally specific projection from the deep layers of the lateral SC to neurons in rostral and dorsal sectors of the STN. Given the retinocentric organization of the SC, these results suggest that lower-field stimuli represented in the lateral colliculus have a direct means of communicating with the basal ganglia via the STN that is not afforded to visual events occurring in the upper visual field.

Original publication

DOI

10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0247-09.2009

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Neurosci

Publication Date

29/04/2009

Volume

29

Pages

5701 - 5709

Keywords

Animals, Male, Mesencephalon, Photic Stimulation, Rats, Reaction Time, Subthalamic Nucleus, Superior Colliculi, Visual Cortex, Visual Pathways