The dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) receives visual information from the retina and transmits it to the cortex. In this study, we made extracellular recordings in the dLGN of both anesthetized and awake mice, and found that a surprisingly high proportion of cells were selective for stimulus orientation. The orientation selectivity of dLGN cells was unchanged after silencing the visual cortex pharmacologically, indicating that it is not due to cortical feedback. The orientation tuning of some dLGN cells correlated with their elongated receptive fields, while in others orientation selectivity was observed despite the fact that their receptive fields were circular, suggesting that their retinal input might already be orientation selective. Consistently, we revealed orientation/axis-selective ganglion cells in the mouse retina using multielectrode arrays in an in vitro preparation. Furthermore, the orientation tuning of dLGN cells was largely maintained at different stimulus contrasts, which could be sufficiently explained by a simple linear feedforward model. We also compared the degree of orientation selectivity in different visual structures under the same recording condition. Compared with the dLGN, orientation selectivity is greatly improved in the visual cortex, but is similar in the superior colliculus, another major retinal target. Together, our results demonstrate prominent orientation selectivity in the mouse dLGN, which may potentially contribute to visual processing in the cortex.
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