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Cortical projections to the superior colliculus in prosimian galagos (Otolemur garnetti)

Baldwin, MK;Kaas, JH;

The superior colliculus (SC) is a key structure within the extrageniculate pathway of visual information to cortex and is highly involved in visuomotor functions. Previous studies in anthropoid primates have shown that superficial layers of the SC receive direct inputs from various visual cortical areas such as V1, V2, and middle temporal (MT), while deeper layers receive direct inputs from visuomotor cortical areas within the posterior parietal cortex and the frontal eye fields. Very little is known, however, about the corticotectal projections in prosimian primates. In the current study we investigated the sources of cortical inputs to the SC in prosimian galagos (Otolemur garnetti) using retrograde anatomical tracers placed into the SC. The superficial layers of the SC in galagos received the majority of their inputs from early visual areas and visual areas within the MT complex. Yet, surprisingly, MT itself had relatively few corticotectal projections. Deeper layers of the SC received direct projections from visuomotor areas including the posterior parietal cortex and premotor cortex. However, relatively few corticotectal projections originated within the frontal eye fields. While prosimian galagos resemble other primates in having early visual areas project to the superficial layers of the SC, with higher visuomotor regions projecting to deeper layers, the results suggest that MT and frontal eye field projections to the SC were sparse in early primates, remained sparse in present-day prosimian primates, and became more pronounced in anthropoid primates.