Two stages in the development of a mammalian retinocollicular projection

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THE retinocollicular projection in the marsupial mammal the wallaby Macropus eugenii, has been investigated anatomically to determine the order in the developing projection and electrophysiologically to determine the time of onset of synaptic transmission by recording evoked potentials in the colliculus in response to stimulation of the optic nerve. There are two clear stages: a protracted period when retinal axons grow into the colliculus in coarse retinotopic order with no recordable electrical activity followed by the formation of terminal zones in retinotopically correct positions, the loss of more widely distributed axons and the onset of evoked potentials. The two stages are not seen in non-mammalian vertebrates where the projection is functional from the beginning.

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