Efferent Projections of The Ectostriatum in Pigeons (Columba livia)

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birds, tectofugal, telence phalon, tract‐tracing

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The ectostriatum is a major visual component of the avian telencephalon. The core region of the ectostriatum (Ec) receives visual input from the optic tectum through thalamic nuclei. In the present study, the efferent projections of the ectostriatum were investigated by using the anterograde tracers Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin and biotinylated dextran amine. Projection patterns resulting from these tracers were confirmed by the retrograde tracer cholera toxin subunit B. When anterograde tracers were injected in Ec, primary projections were seen traveling dorsolaterally to the belt region of the ectostriatum (Ep) and the neostriatal area immediately surrounding Ep (Ep2). Neurons in Ep sent projections primarily to the overlying Ep2. The efferents of Ep2 traveled dorsolaterally to terminate in three telencephalic regions, from anterior to posterior: (1) neostriatum frontale, pars lateralis (NFL), (2) area temporo‐parieto‐occipitalis (TPO), and (3) neostriatum intermedium, pars lateralis (NIL). A part of the archistriatum intermedium and the lateral part of the neostriatum caudale also received somewhat minor projections. In addition, some neurons in Ec were also the source of direct, but minor, projections to the NFL, TPO, NIL, and archistriatum intermedium. The topographical relationship among the primary (Ec), secondary (Ep and Ep2), and tertiary (NFL, TPO, NIL) areas indicate that the neural populations for visual processing are organized along the rostral‐caudal axis. Thus, the anterior Ec sent efferents to the anterior Ep, which in turn sent projections to anterior Ep2. Neurons in the anterior Ep2 sent projections to NFL and the anterior TPO. Similarly, the intermediate and posterior Ec sent projections to corresponding parts of Ep, whose efferents projected to intermediate and posterior Ep2, respectively. The intermediate Ep2 gave rise to major projections to TPO, whereas posterior Ep2 neurons sent efferents primarily to NIL. The organization of this neural circuit is compared with those of other sensory circuits in the avian telencephalon, as well as the laminar arrangement of the mammalian isocortex.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Comparative Neurology, v. 406, issue 3, p. 329-345