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The sensory trigeminal complex and the organisation of its primary afferents in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

Faunes, M;Wild, JM;Finger, T;

Our knowledge of the avian sensory trigeminal system has been largely restricted to the principal trigeminal nucleus (PrV) and its ascending projections to the forebrain. Studies addressing the cytoarchitecture and organisation of afferent input to the sensory trigeminal complex, which includes both the PrV and the nuclei of the descending trigeminal tract (nTTD), have only been performed in pigeons and ducks. Here we extend such an analysis to a songbird, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). We describe the cytoarchitecture of the sensory trigeminal complex, the patterns of calbindin-like and substance P-like immunoreactivity, and the organisation of afferents from the three branches of the trigeminal nerve and from the lingual branch of the hypoglossal nerve. On the basis of cytoarchitecture and immunohistochemistry, the sensory trigeminal column can be subdivided from caudal to rostral, as in other species, into cervical dorsal horn, subnucleus caudalis, subnucleus interpolaris, subnucleus oralis and nucleus principalis. The relative positions of the terminal fields of the three trigeminal branches move from medial to lateral in the dorsal horn to dorsomedial to ventrolateral in nTTD, whereas in PrV there is considerable overlap of mandibular and ophthalmic terminal fields, with only a small maxillary input ventrally. The hypoglossal afferents, which terminate medially in the dorsal horn and dorsolaterally in nTTD, terminate in specific cell groups in the dorsolateral nTTDo and in PrV. This work sets the grounds for further analyses of the ascending connections of the nTTD and the afferents from the syrinx to the trigeminal sensory column. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.