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Brain Res. 1986 Sep;396(3):199-225.

Output systems of the dorsal column nuclei in the cat.

Abstract

Numerous authors have demonstrated that the dorsal column nuclear complex (DCN) is functionally heterogeneous and has multiple terminal targets throughout the neuroaxis. In order to increase understanding of the functional significance of DCN's divergent connections, the present study used single and double light microscopic retrograde tracing strategies in the cat to characterize the location and morphology of DCN neurons that project to different portions of the diencephalon, rostral mesencephalon and spinal cord. These neuronal populations were then compared with those (previously reported from this and other laboratories) that project to the caudal mesencephalon, pons, inferior olive and cerebellum. When the results are considered together, a tentative picture of DCN emerges in which a population of clustered neurons that project exclusively to VPL form a core that is surrounded by and infiltrated with neurons projecting to other parts of the nervous system. Although the neuronal populations projecting to each of the different targets were individually separable anatomically by their location and/or morphological characteristics, previously reported physiological and other anatomical evidence permitted a preliminary grouping of these populations into 3 main systems. The first, a sensory tactile and kinesthetic 'cortical' system, consisted of 3 components: a double core of round, clustered medium-sized neurons (one each in the gracile and cuneate nuclei) and a variform rostral group projecting to the ventroposterolateral nucleus (VPL), a ventral group of unclustered large round neurons in the middle cuneate nucleus and a dense group of neurons in nucleus Z projecting to VPL's border with the ventrolateral nucleus (VPL/VL), and a group of mainly small-sized neurons located between the clusters of neurons or in the thin dorsal rim around the caudal and middle portions of the double cores and a populous, variform rostral group projecting indirectly (and possibly directly) to the posterior group through the intercollicular region of the tectum. The second, a sensorimotor 'cerebellar' system, consisted of multiple, subtly separable populations of neurons with different morphological characteristics all of which were located in different parts of the complex region that surrounds the cores on all sides. These neurons projected to restricted portions of interconnected targets within the zona incerta, tectum, pretectum, red nucleus, pontine grey, pontine raphe, inferior olive, and cerebellum.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

PMID:
3535998
DOI:
10.1016/0165-0173(86)90012-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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