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J Comp Neurol. 1998 Jul 6;396(3):288-309.

Interconnections among nuclei of the subcortical visual shell: the intergeniculate leaflet is a major constituent of the hamster subcortical visual system.

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Department of Psychiatry, Health Science Center, Stony Brook University, New York 11794, USA.


The intergeniculate leaflet (IGL), a major constituent of the circadian visual system, is one of 12 retinorecipient nuclei forming a "subcortical visual shell" overlying the diencephalic-mesencephalic border. The present investigation evaluated IGL connections with nuclei of the subcortical visual shell and determined the extent of interconnectivity between these nuclei. Male hamsters received stereotaxic, iontophoretic injections of the retrograde tracer, cholera toxin beta fragment, or the anterograde tracer, Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutin, into nuclei of the pretectum (medial, commissural, posterior, olivary, anterior, nucleus of the optic tract, posterior limitans), into the superior colliculus, or into the visual thalamic nuclei (lateral posterior, dorsal lateral geniculate, intergeniculate leaflet, ventral lateral geniculate). Retrogradely labeled cell bodies identified nuclei with afferents projecting to the site of injection, whereas the presence of anterogradely labeled fibers with terminals revealed brain nuclei targeted by neurons at the site of injection. The IGL projects bilaterally to all nuclei of the visual shell except the lateral posterior and dorsal lateral geniculate nuclei. The IGL also has afferents from the same set of nuclei, except the nucleus of the optic tract. The extensive bilateral efferent projections distinguish IGL from the ventral lateral geniculate nucleus. The superior colliculus, commissural pretectal, olivary pretectal, and posterior pretectal nuclei also project bilaterally to the majority of subcortical visual nuclei. The IGL has a well-established role in circadian rhythm regulation, but there is as yet no known function for it in the larger context of the subcortical visual system, much of which is involved in oculomotor control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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