The presence and absence of prosencephalic cell groups relaying striatal information to the medial and lateral thalamus in tenrec

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Abstract

Although there are remarkable differences regarding the output organization of basal ganglia between mammals and non-mammals, mammalian species with poorly differentiated brain have scarcely been investigated in this respect. The aim of the present study was to identify the pallidal neurons giving rise to thalamic projections in the Madagascar lesser hedgehog tenrec (Afrotheria). Following tracer injections into the thalamus, retrogradely labelled neurons were found in the depth of the olfactory tubercle (particularly the hilus of the Callejal islands and the insula magna), in subdivisions of the diagonal band complex, the peripeduncular region and the thalamic reticular nucleus. No labelled cells were seen in the globus pallidus. Pallidal neurons were tentatively identified on the basis of their striatal afferents revealed hodologically using anterograde axonal tracer substances and immunohistochemically with antibodies against enkephalin and substance P. The data showed that the tenrec's medial thalamus received prominent projections from ventral pallidal cells as well as from a few neurons within and ventral to the cerebral peduncle. The only regions projecting to the lateral thalamus appeared to be the thalamic reticular nucleus (RTh) and the dorsal peripeduncular nucleus (PpD). On the basis of immunohistochemical data and the topography of its thalamic projections, the PpD was considered to be an equivalent to the pregeniculate nucleus in other mammals. There was no evidence of entopeduncular (internal pallidal) neurons being present within the RTh/PpD complex, neuropils of which did not stain for enkephalin and substance P. The ventrolateral portion of RTh, the only region eventually receiving a striatal input, projected to the caudolateral rather than the rostrolateral thalamus. Thus, the striatopallidal output organization in the tenrec appeared similar, in many respects, to the output organization in non-mammals. This paper considers the failure to identify entopeduncular neurons projecting to the rostrolateral thalamus in a mammal with a little differentiated cerebral cortex, and also stresses the discrepancy between this absence and the presence of a distinct external pallidal segment (globus pallidus).

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