: Behavioral studies in barn owls indicate that both the optic tectum (OT) and the auditory arcopallium (AAr) mediate sound localization through the presence of neurons that respond only when sound comes from a circumscribed direction in space. The early stages of the computations leading to these so-called space-specific neurons are shared in a common brainstem pathway, which then splits at the level of the inferior colliculus (IC) such that the last computational stage is thought to be duplicated. The study presented here addresses whether the space-specific neurons in OT and AAr are indeed partially independent of each other by using anatomical methods more precise than those used in previous studies. Specifically, projection neurons in IC were retrogradely labelled with injections of fluorescein- and rhodamine-conjugated dextran amines into OT and nucleus ovoidalis (OV), the thalamic nucleus leading to AAr. By labelling the OT-projecting and OV-projecting neurons in the same owl, it was confirmed that neurons in IC project to either OV or OT but not both. However, although a segregation was generally observed between the medially positioned OV-projecting neurons and the laterally positioned OT-projecting neurons, there was also a slight overlap between the two populations. Moreover, electrolytic lesions demarcating physiological tuning properties indicate that many OV-projecting neurons are within the area containing space-specific neurons. These results highlight the need for more detailed studies elucidating the microcircuitry and corresponding physiology of IC, such as have been done in the cortices of the mammalian cerebellum and cerebrum. J. Comp. Neurol. 492:110-121, 2005., Copyright (C) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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