The Mesencephalic Reticular Formation as a Conduit for Primate Collicular Gaze Control: Tectal Inputs to Neurons Targeting the Spinal Cord and Medulla

Authors

  • Eddie Perkins,

    1. Department of Anatomy, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
    2. Department of Neurosurgery, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
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  • Susan Warren,

    1. Department of Anatomy, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
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  • Paul J. May

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anatomy, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
    2. Department of Ophthalmology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
    3. Department of Neurology University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
    • Department of Anatomy, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216-4405
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    • Fax: 601/984-1655


Abstract

The superior colliculus (SC), which directs orienting movements of both the eyes and head, is reciprocally connected to the mesencephalic reticular formation (MRF), suggesting the latter is involved in gaze control. The MRF has been provisionally subdivided to include a rostral portion, which subserves vertical gaze, and a caudal portion, which subserves horizontal gaze. Both regions contain cells projecting downstream that may provide a conduit for tectal signals targeting the gaze control centers which direct head movements. We determined the distribution of cells targeting the cervical spinal cord and rostral medullary reticular formation (MdRF), and investigated whether these MRF neurons receive input from the SC by the use of dual tracer techniques in Macaca fascicularis monkeys. Either biotinylated dextran amine or Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin was injected into the SC. Wheat germ agglutinin conjugated horseradish peroxidase was placed into the ipsilateral cervical spinal cord or medial MdRF to retrogradely label MRF neurons. A small number of medially located cells in the rostral and caudal MRF were labeled following spinal cord injections, and greater numbers were labeled in the same region following MdRF injections. In both cases, anterogradely labeled tectoreticular terminals were observed in close association with retrogradely labeled neurons. These close associations between tectoreticular terminals and neurons with descending projections suggest the presence of a trans-MRF pathway that provides a conduit for tectal control over head orienting movements. The medial location of these reticulospinal and reticuloreticular neurons suggests this MRF region may be specialized for head movement control. Anat Rec, 292:1162–1181, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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