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J Comp Neurol. 1992 Oct 15;324(3):379-414.

Corticotectal projections in the cat: anterograde transport studies of twenty-five cortical areas.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


Retrograde transport studies have shown that widespread areas of the cerebral cortex project upon the superior colliculus. In order to explore the organization of these extensive projections, the anterograde autoradiographic method has been used to reveal the distribution and pattern of corticotectal projections arising from 25 cortical areas. In the majority of experiments, electrophysiological recording methods were used to characterize the visual representation and cortical area prior to injection of the tracer. Our findings reveal that seventeen of the 25 cortical areas project upon some portion of the superficial layers (stratum zonale, stratum griseum superficiale, and stratum opticum, SO). These cortical regions include areas 17, 18, 19, 20a, 20b, 21a, 21b, posterior suprasylvian area (PS), ventral lateral suprasylvian area (VLS), posteromedial lateral suprasylvian area (PMLS), anteromedial lateral suprasylvian area (AMLS), anterolateral lateral suprasylvian area (ALLS), posterolateral lateral suprasylvian area (PLLS), dorsolateral lateral suprasyvian area (DLS), periauditory cortex, cingulate cortex, and the visual portion of the anterior ectosylvian sulcus. While some of these corticotectal projections target all superficial laminae and sublaminae, others are more discretely organized in their laminar-sublaminar distribution. Only the corticotectal projections arising from areas 17 and 18 are exclusively related to the superficial layers. The remaining 15 pathways innervate both the superficial and intermediate and/or deep layers. The large intermediate gray layer (stratum griseum intermedium; SGI) receives projections from almost every cortical area; only areas 17 and 18 do not project ventral to SO. All corticotectal projections to SGI vary in their sublaminar distribution and in their specific pattern of termination. The majority of these projections are periodic, or patchy, and there are elaborate (double tier, bridges, or streamers) modes of distribution. We have attempted to place these findings into a conceptual framework that emphasizes that the SGI consists of sensory and motor domains, both of which contain a mosaic of connectionally distinct afferent compartments (Illing and Graybiel, '85, Neuroscience 14:455-482; Harting and Van Lieshout, '91, J. Comp. Neurol. 305:543-558). Corticotectal projections to the layers ventral to SGI, (stratum album intermediale, stratum griseum profundum, and stratum album profundum) arise from thirteen cortical areas. While an organizational plan of these deeper projections is not readily apparent, the distribution of several corticotectal inputs reveals some connectional parcellation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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