Somatosensory areas in the telencephalon of the pigeon

Research paper by K. Funke

Indexed on: 01 Aug '89Published on: 01 Aug '89Published in: Experimental Brain Research


There are two somatosensory areas in the telencephalon of the pigeon which receive an input from the spinal somatosensory system: one in the rostral Wulst which consists of the three hyperstriatal layers (h. accessorium (HA), h. intercalatus superior (HIS) and h. dorsale (HD)) and one in the caudal telencephalon (neostriatum caudale (NC), neostriatum intermedium (NI) and hyperstriatum ventrale (HV)). Recordings of evoked single unit or multi unit activity and of field potentials before and after lesions of spinal pathways at a high cervical level (C4) were made to determine the contribution of these pathways to the transmission of somatosensory signals to these telencephalic areas. The rostral Wulst area receives somatic signals only through dorsal tracts contralateral to the recording site. Inputs from the wing arise mainly through the dorsal columns (DC) and those from the leg largely through the dorsolateral funiculus (DLF). The spinal projection pathway to the caudal neostriatal area includes the dorsal tracts and parts of the lateral funiculi on both sides. There was no difference in response form between the wing and leg responses. Signals transmitted through the lateral pathways were found to elicit the earliest responses (6–13 ms, electrical stimulation) in the caudal forebrain, while signals travelling through the DC arrive later in the caudal area (about 14 ms for wing stimulation) than in the rostral Wulst area (about 9 ms). The afferent thalamic and intratelencephalic connections of the two somatosensory areas in the telencephalon of the pigeon were investigated with retrograde transport of the neuronal tracers horseradish-peroxidase (HRP) or wheatgerm agglutinated HRP (WGA-HRP), Fast Blue (FB) and Rhodamine-isothiocyanat (RITC). Small tracer-injections were made under electrophysiological control at somatosensory responsive locations. These investigations confirm the projection of the caudal part of the nucleus dorsolateralis posterior (DLPc) to the caudal area and of the nucleus dorsalis intermedius ventralis anterior (DIVA) to the rostral area. In addition, it could be shown that the NI/NC projects to the HV thus confirming the electrophysiological results reported in a companion paper (Funke 1989) that the HV is a secondary area. The integrative function of HV is supported by connections to other sensory and motor telencephalic areas. Combined injections of FB and RITC revealed a topographic projection from the DIVA to the anterior Wulst. Both somatosensory areas are reciprocally interconnected and the HV receives, in addition, intratelencephalic projections from other parts of the neostriatum and hyperstriatum and from forebrain structures associated with motor performances (archistriatum, paleostriatum). Furthermore, it could be demonstrated that neurons of the deeper layers in the Wulst (HD, HIS) project to the superficial layer (HA).