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Keywords:

  • torus semicircularis;
  • temporal processing;
  • vocalizations;
  • inferior colliculus

Abstract

Computation of rate in auditory signals is essential to call recognition in anurans. This task is ascribed to a group of central nervous sytem nuclei in the dorsal midbrain or torus semicircularis, homologous to the inferior colliculus of mammals. We have mapped the connections of the subnuclei of the torus semicircularis in Xenopus laevis to determine which receive auditory and which receive lateral line information. Relative to terrestrial anurans, the torus of X. laevis is hypertrophied and occupies the entire caudal, dorsal midbrain. Auditory input to the torus, that arising directly from the dorsal medullary nucleus, is present only in the laminar nucleus. The principal and magnocellular nuclei receive their input from the lateral line nucleus of the medulla. All three nuclei of the torus also have reciprocal connections with the superior olive and the nucleus of the lateral lemniscus. Ascending efferents from all three nuclei of the torus innervate central and lateral thalamic nuclei, and all have a weak reciprocal connection with the posterior thalamus. The laminar and magnocellular nuclei have reciprocal connections with the ventral thalamus, and all three nuclei of the torus receive descending input from the anterior entopeduncular nucleus. The laminar and magnocellular nuclei also receive descending input from the preoptic area. Based on our identification of toral nuclei and these results we assign a major function for the detection of water-borne sounds to the laminar nucleus and a major function for the detection of near field disturbances in water pressure to the principal and magnocellular nuclei. J. Comp. Neurol. 438:148–162, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.