Relay of visual information to the lateral geniculate nucleus and the visual cortex in albino ferrets.
Akerman CJ., Tolhurst DJ., Morgan JE., Baker GE., Thompson ID.
The abnormal organization of the central visual pathways in the albino ferret has been characterized anatomically and physiologically. Recordings in dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the albino ferret show that lamina A1, which receives an aberrant projection from the contralateral eye, contains an extensive representation of the ipsilateral visual hemifield with receptive fields located up to 35 degrees from the vertical meridian. This is not the case in pigmented ferrets, for which the vast majority of units, activated through either the contralateral or ipsilateral eye, have receptive fields confined to the contralateral hemifield. The few fields found in the ipsilateral hemifield are driven through the contralateral eye and none is more than 10 degrees from the midline. Cortical topography was studied by making closely spaced electrode penetrations across the area 17/18 border. In pigmented animals, the reversal of topography at the border is characterized by units with receptive fields centered a few degrees into the ipsilateral hemifield. In 22 of 25 albinos, the "Boston" aberrant topography was found: the representation of the vertical meridian is within area 17, rather than at the area 17/18 border. Instead, at the area 17/18 border, there is a reversal in the topographic progression at up to 30 degrees into the ipsilateral hemifield. This pattern was most pronounced in the upper visual field. In agreement with the "Boston" physiology, injections of retrograde tracer made in area 17 usually label neurons in either lamina A or the part of lamina A1 that is aberrantly innervated by the contralateral eye. A column of labeled cells extending through all geniculate layers is rarely seen in albinos, although this is commonly the pattern in pigmented ferrets.