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J Neurocytol. 2000 Aug;29(8):569-93.

Cytoarchitectonic subdivisions in the subtectal midbrain of the lizard Gallotia galloti.

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  • 1Department of Morphological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Murcia, 30100 Murcia, Spain.


Contemporary study of molecular patterning in the vertebrate midbrain is handicapped by the lack of a complete topological map of the diverse neuronal complexes differentiated in this domain. The relatively less deformed reptilian midbrain was chosen for resolving this fundamental issue in a way that can be extrapolated to other tetrapods. The organization of midbrain centers was mapped topologically in terms of longitudinal columns and cellular strata on transverse, Nissl-stained sections in the lizard Gallotia galloti. Four columns extend along the whole length of the midbrain. In dorsoventral order: 1) the dorsal band contains the optic tectum, surrounded by three ventricularly prominent subdivisions, named griseum tectale, intermediate area and torus semicircularis, in rostrocaudal order; 2) a subjacent region is named here the lateral band, which forms the ventral margin of the alar plate and also shows three rostrocaudal divisions; 3) the basal band forms the basal plate or tegmentum proper; it appears subdivided into medial and lateral parts: the medial part contains the oculomotor and accessory efferent neurons and the medial basal part of the reticular formation, which includes the red nucleus rostrally; the lateral part contains the lateral basal reticular formation, and includes the substantia nigra caudally; 4) the median band contains the ventral tegmental area, representing the mesencephalic floor plate. The alar regions (dorsal and lateral) show an overall cellular stratification into periventricular, central and superficial strata, with characteristic cytoarchitecture for each part. The lateral band contains two well developed superficial nuclei, one of which is commonly misidentified as an isthmic formation. The basal longitudinal subdivisions are simpler and basically consist of periventricular and central strata.

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