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Keywords:

  • feedback projection;
  • electron microscopy;
  • multisensory

Abstract

Evidence indicates that visual stimuli influence cells in the primary auditory cortex. To evaluate potential sources of this visual input and how they enter into the circuitry of the auditory cortex, we examined axonal terminations in the primary auditory cortex from nonprimary extrastriate visual cortex (V2M, V2L) and from the multimodal thalamic suprageniculate nucleus (SG). Gross biocytin/biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) injections into the SG or extrastriate cortex labeled inputs terminating primarily in superficial and deep layers. SG projects primarily to layers I, V, and VI while V2M and V2L project primarily to layers I and VI, with V2L also targeting layers II/III. Layer I inputs differ in that SG terminals are concentrated superficially, V2L are deeper, and V2M are equally distributed throughout. Individual axonal reconstructions document that single axons can 1) innervate multiple layers; 2) run considerable distances in layer I; and 3) run preferentially in the dorsoventral direction similar to isofrequency axes. At the electron microscopic level, SG and V2M terminals 1) are the same size regardless of layer; 2) are non-γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic; 3) are smaller than ventral medial geniculate terminals synapsing in layer IV; 4) make asymmetric synapses onto dendrites/spines that 5) are non-GABAergic and 6) are slightly larger in layer I. Thus, both areas provide a substantial feedback-like input with differences that may indicate potentially different roles. J. Comp. Neurol. 518:3679–3700, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.