Colour vision plays many important roles in animal behaviour but the brain pathways processing colour remain surprisingly poorly understood, including in the most commonly used laboratory mammal, mice. Indeed, particular features of mouse retinal organisation present challenges in defining the mechanisms underlying colour vision in mice and have led to suggestions that this may substantially rely on ‘non-classical’ rod-cone opponency. By contrast, studies using mice with altered cone spectral sensitivity, to facilitate application of photoreceptor-selective stimuli, have revealed widespread cone-opponency across the subcortical visual system. To determine the extent to which such findings are truly reflective of wildtype mouse colour vision, and facilitate neural circuit mapping of colour-processing pathways using intersectional genetic approaches, we here establish and validate stimuli for selectively manipulating excitation of the native mouse S- and M-cone opsin classes. We then use these to confirm the widespread appearance of cone-opponency (>25% of neurons) across the mouse visual thalamus and pretectum. We further extend these approaches to map the occurrence of colour-opponency across optogenetically identified GABAergic (GAD2-expressing) cells in key non-image forming visual centres (pretectum and intergeniculate leaflet/ventral lateral geniculate; IGL/vLGN). Strikingly, throughout, we find S-ON/M-OFF opponency is specifically enriched in non-GABAergic cells, with identified GABAergic cells in the IGL/VLGN entirely lacking this property. Collectively, therefore, we establish an important new approach for studying cone function in mice, confirming a surprisingly extensive appearance of cone-opponent processing in the mouse visual system and providing new insight into functional specialisation of the pathways processing such signals.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 19 May 2023|