Volume reduction without neuronal loss in the primate pulvinar complex following striate cortex lesions

Jonathan M. Chan, Katrina H. Worthy, Marcello G.P. Rosa, David H. Reser, Nafiseh Atapour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Lesions in the primary visual cortex (V1) cause extensive retrograde degeneration in the lateral geniculate nucleus, but it remains unclear whether they also trigger any neuronal loss in other subcortical visual centers. The inferior (IPul) and lateral (LPul) pulvinar nuclei have been regarded as part of the pathways that convey visual information to both V1 and extrastriate cortex. Here, we apply stereological analysis techniques to NeuN-stained sections of marmoset brain, in order to investigate whether the volume of these nuclei, and the number of neurons they comprise, change following unilateral long-term V1 lesions. For comparison, the medial pulvinar nucleus (MPul), which has no connections with V1, was also studied. Compared to control animals, animals with lesions incurred either 6 weeks after birth or in adulthood showed significant LPul volume loss following long (> 11 months) survival times. However, no obvious areas of neuronal degeneration were observed. In addition, estimates of neuronal density in lesioned hemispheres were similar to those in the non-lesioned hemispheres of same animals. Our results support the view that, in marked contrast with the geniculocortical projection, the pulvinar pathway is largely spared from the most severe long-term effects of V1 lesions, whether incurred in early postnatal or adult life. This difference can be linked to the more divergent pattern of pulvinar connectivity to the visual cortex, including strong reciprocal connections with extrastriate areas. The results also caution against interpretation of volume loss in brain structures as a marker for neuronal degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2417–2430
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Marmoset
  • Neuronal density
  • Pulvinar
  • Striate cortex lesions
  • Volume loss

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