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Dorsal pallidal neurons directly link the nidopallium and midbrain in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

Wild, JM;

The dorsal pallidum in birds is considered similar, if not homologous, to the globus pallidus (GP) of mammals. The dorsal pallidum projects to both thalamic and midbrain targets similar to the direct and indirect pathways arising from the internal and external segments of the GP. In the present study, retrograde and anterograde tracing studies revealed a previously undescribed projection of the avian dorsal pallidum. This arises from a specific dorsomedial component, which terminates in the intercollicular nucleus and partly surrounds the avian equivalent of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus. The respiratory-vocal dorsomedial nucleus of the intercollicular complex, however, does not receive these projections. The somata of the pallidal neurons retrogradely labeled from injections in the intercollicular nucleus were large and generally multipolar and had extensive, sparsely branching central processes (presumptive dendrites) that together extended up to 2mm dorsally into the intermediate and caudomedial nidopallium. The size and morphology of these neurons were similar to those of large pallidal neurons labeled by calretinin immunoreactivity, which could be co-localized to the same cells. Thus, rather than being directly involved in the control of movement, the large dorsomedial neurons of the caudal dorsal pallidum may be involved in sensory processing, in that they provide an unusual direct link between sensory (auditory/somatosensory) regions of the nidopallium and sensory regions of the intercollicular nucleus of the midbrain. J. Comp. Neurol. 525:1731-1742, 2017. 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.