Nucleus Rostrolateralis: An Expansion of the Epithalamus in Some Actinopterygii


  • William M. Saidel

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey
    • Department of Biology, Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey
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Correspondence to: William Saidel, Department of Biology and Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ 08102-1411. E-mail:


The diencephalic nucleus rostrolateralis (RL) in the African butterfly fish (Pantodon buchholzi) is a brain nucleus identified in fewer than a dozen of the ∼25,000 species of actinopterygian fishes. Located in the rostrolateral diencephalon, this nucleus in Pantodon receives direct and indirect visual input from the superior visual field. Its lack of precedent or consistent phylogenetic expression creates a difficulty in interpreting the functional role of this nucleus within the visual system. By tracing experiments, RL was found to be afferent to nucleus interpeduncularis (IP) and the target of cells from the subpallium of the telencephalon. RL is a component of a descending telencephalic pathway involved in at least one behavior at the intersection of limbic and somatic activities—feeding. The parallelism between the ventral telencephalon—RL—IP and the limbic/striatal—habenula—IP pathway (the dorsal diencephalic conduction system, DDCS) suggests that RL is a component within the DDCS. Moreover, the hodological connections of RL suggest that RL is likely a hypertrophy of the lateral habenula. Anat Rec, 296:1594–1602, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.