Two optic flow pathways from the pretectal nucleus lentiformis mesencephali to the cerebellum in pigeons (Columba livia)

J Comp Neurol. 2006 Dec 10;499(5):732-44. doi: 10.1002/cne.21108.


Neurons in the pretectal nucleus lentiformis mesencephali (LM) are involved in the analysis of optic flow. LM provides mossy fiber inputs to folia VI-VIII of the posterior cerebellum and IXcd of the vestibulocerebellum. Previous research has shown that the vestibulocerebellum is involved in visual-vestibular integration supporting gaze stabilization. The function of folia VI-VIII in pigeons is not well understood; however, these folia receive input from a tectopontine system, which is likely involved with analyzing local motion as opposed to optic flow. We sought to determine whether the mossy fiber input from LM to IXcd differs from that to VI-VIII. Fluorescent retrograde tracers were injected into these folia, and the pattern of labeling in LM was observed. Large multipolar neurons were labeled throughout the rostrocaudal extent of LM. There was a clear mediolateral difference: 74.3% of LM neurons projecting to IXcd were located in the lateral subnucleus of LM (LMl), whereas 73.8% of LM neurons projecting to VI-VIII were found in medial LM (LMm). This suggests that the subnuclei of LM have differing roles. In particular, the LMl-IXcd pathway is involved in generating the optokinetic response. We suggest that the pathway from LMm to VI-VIII is integrating optic flow and local motion to support various oculomotor and visuomotor behaviors, including obstacle avoidance during locomotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology*
  • Columbidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Mesencephalon / anatomy & histology*
  • Olivary Nucleus / anatomy & histology
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology*