ABSTRACT: We have used the anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) to study with albino rats the projections from the inferior colliculus (IC) to the tectal longitudinal column (TLC), a newly discovered nucleus that spans the midbrain tectum longitudinally, on each side of the midbrain, immediately above the periaqueductal gray matter. We studied the projections of the medial IC, which includes the classical central nucleus (CNIC) and the dorsal cortex (DCIC), and those of the lateral IC, equivalent to the classical external cortex (ECIC). Following unilateral injections of PHA-L into the medial IC, numerous terminal fibers are labeled bilaterally in the TLC. The ipsilateral projection is denser and targets the entire nucleus, whereas the contralateral projection targets significantly only the caudal half or two-thirds of the TLC. Fibers from the medial IC reach the TLC by two routes: as collaterals of axons that travel in the commissure of the IC and as collaterals of thick ipsilateral colliculogeniculate axons; the latter travel through the deep superior colliculus on their way to the TLC. Within the TLC, individual IC fibers tend to run longitudinally. The injection of PHA-L into the lateral IC indicates that this subdivision sends a weak, bilateral projection to the TLC whose trajectory, morphology and distribution are similar to those of the projection from the medial IC. These results demonstrate that all subdivisions of the IC send projections to the TLC, suggesting that the IC may be one of the main sources of auditory input to this tectal nucleus.
Neuroscience 03/2010; 166(2):653-64. · 3.38 Impact Factor