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Acetylcholine (ACh) is known to modulate neuronal activity in the rodent primary visual cortex (V1). Although cholinergic modulation has been extensively examined in vitro, far less is understood regarding how ACh modulates visual information processing in vivo. We therefore extracellularly recorded visual responses to drifting sinusoidal grating stimuli from V1 of anesthetized rats and tested the effects of ACh administered locally by microiontophoresis. ACh exerted response facilitation or suppression in individual neurons across all cortical layers without any laminar bias. We assessed ACh effects on the stimulus contrast-response function, finding that ACh increased or decreased the response to varying stimulus contrasts in proportion to the magnitude of the control response without changing the shape of the original contrast-response function, which describes response gain control but not contrast gain control. Our results indicate that ACh serves as a gain controller in the visual cortex of rodents.

Citation

Shogo Soma, Satoshi Shimegi, Naofumi Suematsu, Hiromichi Sato. Cholinergic modulation of response gain in the rat primary visual cortex. Scientific reports. 2013;3:1138

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PMID: 23378897

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