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Keywords:

  • double-labelling;
  • associational-commisural neurons;
  • higher order integrative cortical areas

Abstract

A fluorescent dye (usually fast blue or rhodamine tagged latex microspheres) was injected into cortical area 17 (or area 17 and the lateral part of area 18b) of adult and juvenile (15–22 day old) Sprague-Dawley albino rats. Another fluorescent dye (usually diamidino yellow) was injected into cortical areas 17, 18a and 18b of the opposite hemisphere. The injections involved only the cortical grey matter. After postinjection survival of 2–14 days the distribution of retrogradely labelled mesencephalic and prosencephalic cells was analysed. Both small and large injections labelled retrogradely a substantial number of cells in specific and nonspecific dorsal thalamic nuclei (lateral geniculate, lateral posterior, ventromedial, several intralaminar nuclei and nucleus Reuniens) as well as a small number of cells in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus and the mesencephalic ventral tagmental area (VTA). While labelled thalamic cells contained only the dye injected into the ipsilateral cortex, a small proportion of hypothalamic and VTA cells was labelled with the dye injected into the contralateral cortex. Virtually none of the cells in these areas were double labelled with both dyes. Both small and large injections labelled cells in the ipsilateral telencephalic magnocellular nuclei of the basal forebrain and the caudal claustrum. A substantial minority of labelled cells in these structures was labelled by the dye injected into the contralateral cortex. Furthermore, a small proportion (about 1%) of claustral cells projecting to the ipsilateral cortex were double labelled with both dyes. In several cortical areas ipsilateral to the injected area 17, associational neurons were intermingled with commissural neurons projecting to the contralateral visual cortex. A substantial proportion of associational neurons projecting to ipsilateral area 17 also projected to the contralateral visual cortex (associational-commissural neurons). Thus, in visual area 18a, the associational-commissural neurons were located in all laminae, with the exception of lamina 1 and the bottom of lamina 6, and constituted about 30% of the neurons projecting to ipsilateral area 17. In paralimbic association area 35/13, associational-commissural neurons were located in lamina 5 and constituted about 20% of neurons projecting to ipsilateral area 17. In the limbic area 29d, the associational-commissural neurons were located in laminae 4, 5 and the upper part of lamina 6 and constituted about 10% of the associational-commissural neurons projecting to ipsilateral area 17. In oculomotor area 8, double-labelled neurons were located in lamina 5 and constituted about 10% of the neurons projecting to ipsilateral area 17. Thus, it appears that the axons of mesencephalic and diencephalic neurons projecting to the visual cortex do not send collaterals into both hemispheres. The bihemispheric projection to the rat's visual cortex originates almost exclusively in the retinotopically organized cortical area 18a and in integrative cortical areas 35/13, 29d and 8.