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Keywords:

  • electrocommunication;
  • electrolocation;
  • teleost;
  • telencephalon;
  • optic tectum;
  • spatial orientation

Abstract

This study describes the extrinsic connections of the dorsal telencephalon (pallium) of gymnotiform fish. We show that the afferents to the dorsolateral and dorsomedial pallial subdivisions of gymnotiform fish arise from the preglomerular complex. The preglomerular complex receives input from four clearly distinct regions: 1) descending input from the pallium itself (dorsomedial and dorsocentral subdivisions and nucleus taenia); 2) other diencephalic nuclei (centroposterior, glomerular, and anterior tuberal nuclei and nucleus of the posterior tuberculum); 3) mesencephalic sensory structures (optic tectum, dorsal and ventral torus semicircularis); and 4) basal forebrain, preoptic area, and hypothalamic nuclei. Previous studies have implicated the majority of the diencephalic and mesencephalic nuclei in electrosensory, visual, and acousticolateral functions. Here we discuss the implications of preglomerular/pallial electrosensory-associated afferents with respect to a major functional dichotomy of the electric sense. The results allow us to hypothesize that a functional distinction between electrocommunication vs. electrolocation is maintained within the input and output pathways of the gymnotiform pallium. Electrocommunication information is conveyed to the pallium through complex indirect pathways that originate in the nucleus electrosensorius, whereas electrolocation processing follows a conservative pathway inherent to all vertebrates, through the optic tectum. We hypothesize that cells responsive to communication signals do not converge onto the same targets in the preglomerular complex as cells responsive to moving objects. We also hypothesize that efferents from the dorsocentral (DC) telencephalon project to the dorsal torus semicircularis to regulate processing of electrocommunication signals, whereas DC efferents to the tectum modulate sensory control of movement. J. Comp. Neurol. 520:3338–3368, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.