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Lateral ocellar nerve projections in the dragonfly brain

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The central projections of the lateral ocellar neurons of the dragonfly were examined using whole nerve cobalt iontophoresis, supplemented by sectioning of the nerve and brain for inspection in the light and electron microscopes. At E.M. level the presence of cobalt in filled axon profiles and cell bodies was confirmed by analysis of X-ray energy spectra in the microscope.

The pathways, cell body sites and terminal arborizations of four large (7–25 μm diameter) lateral ocellar neurons are described. Two of these fibers arborize in the ipsilateral posterior neuropil of the protocerebrum and two cross the brain and arborize in the contralateral posterior neuropil. Within each half of the posterior neuropil, two spatially separated regions of ocellar input have been identified. These regions receive median ocellar input plus input from either the ipsi- or contralateral ocellus, but not both. The arborizations of the contralateral fibers are more extensive than those of the ipsilateral fibers.

One of the contralateral neurons crosses the brain in the region of the protocerebral bridge giving off a collateral in that region before descending to the posterior neuropil. This collateral arborizes almost immediately in a region receiving input from arborizations of a number of small ocellar neurons (those less than 5 μm in diameter) from the ipsilateral ocellar nerve, together with small neurons from the median ocellar nerve, forming a region in each half of the brain which receives input from all three ocelli. The small lateral ocellar neurons associated with these arborizations have cell bodies adjacent to the lateral ocellar tracts.

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Correspondence to Dr. Richard L. Chappell.

Additional information

This work was supported in part by National Institute of Health Grants 2 RO1 EY-00777 and 1 KO4 EY-00040

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Chappell, R.L., Goodman, L.J. & Kirkham, J.B. Lateral ocellar nerve projections in the dragonfly brain. Cell Tissue Res. 190, 99–114 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00210040

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Key words

  • Insect vision
  • Ocellar system
  • Dragonfly
  • Insect brain