The organization of the pulvinar in the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). I. Cytoarchitecture and connections.
The posterior neocortex in the grey squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, includes an extensive region which receives projections from the pulvinar. Previous studies have demonstrated that this cortical region can be subdivided on the basis of differences in cytoarchitecture and electrophysiologically defined representations of the visual field. The main purpose of the present paper was to determine whether these cortical subdivisions could be related to corresponding subdivisions in the pulvinar. The methods used to trace connections included anterograde degeneration, anterograde axonal transport of tritiated amino acids and the retrograde axonal transport of horseradish peroxidase. The results indicate that the pulvinar in this species contains at least three main subdivisions which can be distinguished by their cytoarchitecture and their patterns of connections. A caudal subdivision contains large, evenly-spaced neurons and receives bilateral input from the superficial, retinal-recipient layers of the superior colliculus. This caudal subdivision has reciprocal interconnections with a cytoarchitectonically distinct area in the temporal cortex. A rostro-lateral subdivision contains smaller, more lightly stained neurons which tend to form clusters. This subdivision receives only ipsilateral tectal input and projects to occipital area 18. This subdivision does not receive input from areas 17, 18, and 19, or from the temporal cortex. Finally, a rostro-medial subdivision is cytoarchitectonically similar to the rostro-lateral subdivision but receives little, if any, input from the superior colliculus. This rostro-medial area does, however, receive corticofugal projections from occipital areas 17, 18, and 19, and projects to area 19. These patterns of connections suggest that each of these subdivisions has close associations with the visual system. The question of whether similar subdivision are present in the visual thalamus of other species is discussed.
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