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Eur J Neurosci. 2016 Dec;44(11):2899-2908. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13413. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Intralaminar and tectal projections to the subthalamus in the rat.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 855 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38163, USA.
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.


Projections from the posterior intralaminar thalamic nuclei and the superior colliculus (SC) to the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and the zona incerta (ZI) have been described in the primate and rodent. The aims of this study was to investigate several questions on these projections, using modern neurotracing techniques in rats, to advance our understanding of the role of STN and ZI. We examined whether projection patterns to the subthlamus can be used to identify homologues of the primate centromedian (CM) and the parafascicular nucleus (Pf) in the rodent, the topography of the projection including what percent of intralaminar neurons participate in the projections, and electron microscopic examination of intralaminar synaptic boutons in STN. The aim on the SC-subthalamic projection was to examine whether STN is the main target of the projection. This study revealed: (i) the areas similar to primate CM and Pf could be recognized in the rat; (ii) the Pf-like area sends a very heavy topographically organized projection to STN but very sparse projection to ZI, which suggested that Pf might control basal ganglia function through STN; (iii) the projection from the CM-like area to the subthalamus was very sparse; (iv) Pf boutons and randomly sampled asymmetrical synapses had similar distributions on the dendrites of STN neurons; and (v) the lateral part of the deep layers of SC sends a very heavy projection to ZI and moderate to sparse projection to limited parts of STN, suggesting that SC is involved in a limited control of basal ganglia function.


parafascicular nucleus; subthalamic nucleus; subthalamus; zona incerta

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