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J Comp Neurol. 2004 Aug 16;476(2):146-53.

Retinal target cells of the centrifugal projection from the isthmo-optic nucleus.

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Department of Information and Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima 890-0065, Japan.


Although the avian retina has long been known to receive projection from a midbrain nucleus, the isthmo-optic nucleus (ION), the output of its target cells has remained obscure. We labeled the isthmo-optic (IO) terminals in the Japanese quail retina, by using anterograde transport of fluorescent tracer injected into the ION, and then labeled target cells for these terminals by means of intracellular tracer injection under direct microscopic observation. Somata of the IO target cells (IOTCs) lie in the innermost zone of the inner nuclear layer of the ventral half of the retina and have no dendrites but an axon. The axons run in the inner plexiform layer (IPL) for up to 6 mm and terminate densely in a round or elliptical terminal field, about 90-290 microm in diameter, of the outermost zone of the IPL. Longer axons (> 2 mm) extend dorsally, but shorter ones (< 1 mm) project ventrally or horizontally, so the terminals are distributed widely in both dorsal and ventral halves of the retina. The IOTCs cannot be classified into any of the five conventional major classes of retinal cells, including amacrine cells, and are thought to be "slave" neurons whose output is controlled by the neurons in the brain. Topographic separation between input to and output from the IOTCs by the axons might be essential for the overall topographic organization of the centrifugal visual system in birds.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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