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Keywords:

  • brain evolution;
  • emotional behaviour;
  • limbic system;
  • multimodal association;
  • reptiles

Abstract

The presence of multimodal association in the telencephalon of reptiles has been investigated by tracing the afferent connections to the posterior dorsal ventricular ridge (PDVR) of the lizard Podarcis hispanica. The PDVR receives telencephalic afferents from the lateral (olfactory) and dorsal cortices, and from the three unimodal areas of the anterior dorsal ventricular ridge, in a convergent manner. From the diencephalon, it receives afferents from the dorsomedial anterior and medial posterior thalamic nuclei, and from several hypothalamic nuclei. Brainstem afferents to the PDVR originate in the dorsal interpeduncular nucleus, the nucleus of the lateral lemniscus and parabrachial nucleus.

 The afferents to the thalamic nuclei that project to the PDVR have also been studied. The dorsomedial anterior thalamic nucleus receives projections mainly from limbic structures, whereas the medial posterior thalamic nucleus is the target of projections from structures with a clear sensory significance (optic tectum, torus semicircularis, nuclei of the lateral and spinal lemniscus, superior olive and trigeminal complex).

 As a result, the PDVR appears as an associative centre that receives visual, auditory, somatosensory and olfactory information from several telencephalic and non-telencephalic centres, and a multimodal projection from the medial posterior thalamic nucleus. This pattern of afferents of the PDVR is similar to that of the caudal neostriatum in birds and the basolateral division of the mammalian amygdala. These results indicate that a multimodal amygdala is already present in reptiles, and has probably played a key role in the evolution of the vertebrate brain.