Terminal arbors of single ON‐center and OFF‐center X and Y retinal ganglion cell axons within the ferret's lateral geniculate nucleus

Anna W. Roe, Preston E. Garraghty, Mriganka Sur

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4 Scopus citations


The lateral geniculate nucleus of the ferret contains not only eye‐specific layers, but a further subdivision of layers A and A1 into inner and outer sublaminae that contain, respectively, ON‐center and OFF‐center cells (Stryker and Zahs, '83). To study how the arbors of single retinal ganglion cell axons correlate with these cellular divisions, we have examined the morphology of physiologically classified retinal axons in the ferret's lateral geniculate nucleus. As in cats, we could classify retinal axons as X or Y on the basis of a number of physiological criteria. X and Y axons have distinct patterns of termination in the lateral geniculate nucleus. Contralateral X axons innervate lamina A and ipsilateral axons lamina A1. X axons are further segregated in these laminae so that ON‐center axons terminate in the inner sublamina, and OFF‐center axons in the outer sublamina. We did not observe any branches of X axons innervating the medial interlaminar nucleus or the midbrain. Y axons have much larger terminal arbors and exhibit greater variation in their terminations. Generally, within layers A and A1, ON‐center Y axons innervate the inner sublamina and OFF‐center Y axons innervate the outer sublamina. However, they often innervate both sublaminae, and occasionally have a few boutons in the inappropriate lamina as well. Y axons also terminate in the dorsal C laminae, the interlaminar zones, and the medial interlaminar nucleus; branches of these axons course toward the midbrain, presumably to innervate the superior colliculus. Thus, whereas the Y pathway in the ferret is one of high divergence, the X pathway appears to be the substrate for segregated ON and OFF channels through the lateral geniculate nucleus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-242
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 8 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • intracellular labeling
  • retinogeniculate axons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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