The organization of central auditory pathways in a reptile, Iguana iguana.
The present experiments were designed to trace the central auditory pathways in an extant reptile, the New Worlkd lizard--Iguana iguana, utilizing anterograde axonal degeneration stained by the Fink-Heimer ('67) method and the retrograde axonal transport of horseradish peroxidase (LaVail and LaVail, '74). Beginning with the projections of the auditory portion of the VIIIth nerve, the ascending pathways were traced through successive relay nuclei to the telencephalon. The auditory portion of the VIIIth nerve projects to two nuclei in the dorsomedial medulla-nucleus angularis and nucleus magnocellularis medialis. These two nuclei together with a third cll group, nucleus magnocellularis lateralis (intercalated between nucleus angularis and nucleus magnocellularis medialis), have been referred to as the auditory tubercle in previous studies (cf. Miller, '75). The axonal degeneration following large lesions of the auditory tubercle and small lesions of nucleus angularis demonstrated the second order auditory pathways. Fibers leave nucleus angularis ventrally and travel to the ventral surface of the medulla where they cross the midline and ascend to the midbrain in pathways resembling the trapezoid body and the lateral lemniscus of mammals. Along these pathways, terminal arborizations of some fibers were seen in three lower brainstem nuclei while other fibers ascent to the midbrain and terminate in the central nucleus of the torus semicircularis. Experiments in which horseradish peroxidase injections were made in the torus semicircularis demonstrated that nucleus angularis is a primary source of second order auditory fibers to the midbrain and, in addition, that two of the lower brainstem targets of the auditory tubercle project to the torus semicircularis. These lower brainstem pathways were shown to be associated with the auditory system by electrophysiologically recording sound-evoked responses from clusters of cells in the torus semicircularis. Ascending fibers arising from the central nucleus of the torus semicircularis were followed rostrally where they entered the dorsal thalamus and terminated throughout nucleus medialis. Finally, a thalamotelencephalic auditory pathway was traced from nucleus medialis into the lateral forebrain bundle. Terminations of this pathway from nucleus medialis were seen in the medial dorsal ventricular ridge and in the striatum. It was concluded that the ascending auditory pathways of the iguana bear a remarkable resemblance to both the mammalian and avian auditory pathways from the level of the first order neurons in the VIIIth nerve to the level of the telencephalon. At the same time, there are important specializations of the auditory system in birds and mammals such as the development of particular lower brainstem nuclei. Nevertheless, a basic plan for the organization of the auditory system in terrestrial vertebrates can be recognized which invites comparisons with the vertebrate classes that remained in aquatic habitats...
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