The cytoarchitectonic organization of the medial geniculate body and adjoining thalamic nuclei was analyzed in the mustached bat (Pteronotus parnellii). These subdivisions provide a reference for structural, physiological, conncetional, and nurochemical work. Most nuclei recognized in other mammals exist in the mustached bat, although the relative volume of the three divisions was species specific. The ventral division contains medium-sized neurons and a few smaller cells and is well developed. Neurons in the lateral part lie in regularly aligned rows corresponding to the laminae in Golgi material; in the medial part, these laminae are obscured by fibers. The dorsal dividion has at least four nuclei, each with a unique cytoarchitecture and myeloarchitectonic organization. The suprageniculate nucleus is prominent and has many large radiate neurons. Cells in the superficial dorsal nucleus have weakly laminated dendrites, while dorsal nucleus neurons have spherical dendritic fields. There is a wide range of neuropil patterns within the dorsal division. The suprageniculate nucleus has thick myelinated axons, while the fibers in the superficial and dorsal nuclei are much thinner. The rostral pole nucleus becomes prominent in the anterior one-half of the auditory thalamus; its architectonic affiliation is equivocal, and connectional and immunocytochemical studies suggest that it may belong to the dorsal division. The medial division is one nucleus with many types of neurons, and it has coarse axons without laminar orientation. It is the smallest of the divisions and is present throughout the medial geniculate complex, except at the caudal tip and at the rostral pole.
Many features of medial geniculate body organization evident in other mammals are recognized in the mustached bat. These include a prominent ventral division, some of whose neurons have a laminar organization, and a comparatively small medial division that is devoid of fibrodendritic laminae. Other features, such as the presence of a large rostral pole nucleus, whose homologue in other species is uncertain, or the sparse number or small cells that may participate in local circuits, set it apart from carnivores and primates and suggest that there are species specific patterns of medial geniculate body organization. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.