A novel relay nucleus between the inferior colliculus and the optic tectum in the chicken (Gallus gallus)

Bertram Niederleitner, Cristian Gutierrez-Ibanez, Quirin Krabichler, Stefan Weigel, Harald Luksch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Processing multimodal sensory information is vital for behaving animals in many contexts. The barn owl, an auditory specialist, is a classic model for studying multisensory integration. In the barn owl, spatial auditory information is conveyed to the optic tectum (TeO) by a direct projection from the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICX). In contrast, evidence of an integration of visual and auditory information in auditory generalist avian species is completely lacking. In particular, it is not known whether in auditory generalist species the ICX projects to the TeO at all. Here we use various retrograde and anterograde tracing techniques both in vivo and in vitro, intracellular fillings of neurons in vitro, and whole-cell patch recordings to characterize the connectivity between ICX and TeO in the chicken. We found that there is a direct projection from ICX to the TeO in the chicken, although this is small and only to the deeper layers (layers 13–15) of the TeO. However, we found a relay area interposed among the IC, the TeO, and the isthmic complex that receives strong synaptic input from the ICX and projects broadly upon the intermediate and deep layers of the TeO. This area is an external portion of the formatio reticularis lateralis (FRLx). In addition to the projection to the TeO, cells in FRLx send, via collaterals, descending projections through tectopontine-tectoreticular pathways. This newly described connection from the inferior colliculus to the TeO provides a solid basis for visual-auditory integration in an auditory generalist bird. J. Comp. Neurol. 525:513–534, 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-534
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2017


  • FRL
  • MLd
  • RRID:AB_10013220
  • RRID:AB_2109419
  • RRID:AB_2313571
  • RRID:AB_2336126
  • RRID:SCR_001622
  • biocytin
  • birds
  • midbrain
  • nucleus mesencephalicus lateralis pars dorsalis
  • slice
  • torus semicircularis


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