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Topographical organisation of projections from the nucleus isthmi magnocellularis to the optic tectum of the chick brain


The anatomical connection of the magnocellular isthmic nucleus with the optic tectum was investigated with the axonal tracer biotinylated dextran amine. Following iontophoretic injection of this tracer into different areas of the chick optic tectum, neurones of both magno- and parvocellular isthmic nuclei were labelled together in a topographical arrangement. The number of labelled neurones in the parvocellular nucleus was generally higher than in magnocellular. Using different locations of the tracer injections, systematic shifts in the location of the labelled neurones were detected. The labelled axons were seen to course along the shortest possible distance between the injection site and the cells of origin, i.e., the ventral part of the tectum received projections from neurones located ventrally in the isthmic nuclei, the dorsal tectum from neurones in the dorsal part, and the lateral extension of the tectum from neurones lying midway along the nuclei. This parallel and topographic projection of the two nuclei was primarily observed in sagittal sections. After tracer injections into the magnocellular nucleus, the terminal arbours were seen to extend from the deep layers (11–12) to layer 2 of the tectum. The projections observed appeared to be topographically organised, and furthermore appeared to be parallel with and complimentary to previously described projections of the parvocellular isthmic nucleus.

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We extend our thanks to Jozsef Kiss for the high-quality phototechnical work. This work was supported by grant T037253 of OTKA, Hungary.

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Correspondence to T. Tömböl.

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Tömböl, T., Alpár, A., Eyre, M.D. et al. Topographical organisation of projections from the nucleus isthmi magnocellularis to the optic tectum of the chick brain. Anat Embryol 211, 119–128 (2006).

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  • Isthmic nuclei
  • Topographical projection
  • BDA tracer