Anatomical Organization of the Visual Dorsal Ventricular Ridge in the Chick (Gallus Gallus): Layers and Columns in the Avian Pallium

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Abstract

The dorsal ventricular ridge (DVR) is one of the main components of the sauropsid pallium. In birds, the DVR is formed by an inner region, the nidopallium, and a more dorsal region, the mesopallium. The nidopallium contains discrete areas that receive auditory, visual, and multisensory collothalamic projections. These nidopallial nuclei are known to sustain reciprocal, short-range projections with their overlying mesopallial areas. Recent findings on the anatomical organization of the auditory DVR have shown that these short-range projections have a columnar organization that closely resembles that of the mammalian neocortex. However, it is unclear whether this columnar organization generalizes to other areas within the DVR. Here we examine in detail the organization of the visual DVR, performing small, circumscribed deposits of neuronal tracers as well as intracellular fillings in brain slices. We show that the visual DVR is organized in three main laminae, the thalamorecipient nucleus entopallium; a dorsally adjacent nidopallial lamina, the intermediate nidopallium; and a contiguous portion of the ventral mesopallium, the mesopallium ventrale. As in the case of the auditory DVR, we found a highly topographically organized system of reciprocal interconnections among these layers, which was formed by dorsoventrally oriented, discrete columnar bundles of axons. We conclude that the columnar organization previously demonstrated in the auditory DVR is not a unique feature but a general characteristic of the avian sensory pallium. We discuss these results in the context of a comparison between sauropsid and mammalian pallial organization. J. Comp. Neurol. 523:2618–2636, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Using “in vitro” tract tracing and intracellular fillings techniques, the authors show that the avian visual DVR is composed of three main layers, highly interconnected through a system of discrete columnar bundles of axons reciprocally and homotopically arranged. These results stress the similarities between sauropsid and mammalian pallial organization.

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