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J Comp Neurol. 2003 Dec 22;467(4):607-27.

The visual pulvinar in tree shrews II. Projections of four nuclei to areas of visual cortex.

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Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, 301 Wilson Hall, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA.


Patterns of thalamocortical connections were related to architectonically defined subdivisions of the pulvinar complex and the dorsolateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri). Tree shrews are of special interest because they are considered close relatives of primates, and they have a highly developed visual system. Several distinguishable tracers were injected within and across cortical visual areas in individual tree shrews in order to reveal retinotopic patterns and cortical targets of subdivisions of the pulvinar. The results indicate that each of the three architectonic regions of the pulvinar has a distinctive pattern of cortical connections and that one of these divisions is further divided into two regions with different patterns of connections. Two of the pulvinar nuclei have similar retinotopic patterns of projections to caudal visual cortex. The large central nucleus of the pulvinar (Pc) projects to the first and second visual areas, V1 and V2, and an adjoining temporal dorsal area (TD) in retinotopic patterns indicating that the upper visual quadrant is represented dorsal to the lower quadrant in Pc. The smaller ventral nucleus (Pv) which stains darkly for the Cat-301 antigen, projects to these same cortical areas, with a retinotopic pattern. Pv also projects to a temporal anterior area, TA. The dorsal nucleus (Pd), which densely expresses AChE, projects to posterior and ventral areas of temporal extrastriate cortex, areas TP and TPI. A posterior nucleus, Pp, projects to anterior areas TAL and TI, of the temporal lobe, as well as TPI. Injections in different cortical areas as much as 6 mm apart labeled overlapping zones in Pp and double-labeled some cells. These results indicate that the visual pulvinar of tree shrews contains at least four functionally distinct subdivisions, or nuclei. In addition, the cortical injections revealed that the LGN projects topographically and densely to V1 and that a significant number of LGN neurons project to V2 and TD.

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