In vivo retinotopic mapping of superior colliculus using manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging

Neuroimage. 2011 Jan 1;54(1):389-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.07.015. Epub 2010 Jul 13.


The superior colliculus (SC) is a dome-shaped subcortical laminar structure in the mammalian midbrain, whose superficial layers receive visual information from the retina in a topological order. Despite the increasing number of studies investigating retinotopic projection in visual brain development and disorders, in vivo, high-resolution 3D mapping of topographic organization in the subcortical visual nuclei has not yet been available. This study explores the capability of 3D manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI) at 200 μm isotropic resolution for in vivo retinotopic mapping of the rat SC upon partial transection of the intraorbital optic nerve. One day after intravitreal Mn(2+) injection into both eyes, animals with partial transection at the right superior intraorbital optic nerve in Group 1 (n=8) exhibited a significantly lower T1-weighted signal intensity in the lateral region of the left SC compared to the left medial SC and right control SC. Partial transection toward the temporal or nasal region of the right intraorbital optic nerve in Group 2 (n=7) led to T1-weighted hypointensity in the rostral or caudal region of the left SC, whereas a clear border was observed separating 2 halves of the left SC in all groups. Previous histological and electrophysiological studies showed that the retinal ganglion cell axons emanating from superior, inferior, nasal and temporal retina projected respectively to the contralateral lateral, medial, caudal and rostral SC in rodents. While this topological pattern is preserved in the intraorbital optic nerve, it was shown that partial transection of the superior intraorbital optic nerve led to primary injury predominantly in the superior but not inferior retina and optic nerve. The results of this study demonstrated the sensitivity of submillimeter-resolution MEMRI for in vivo, 3D mapping of the precise retinotopic projections in SC upon reduced anterograde axonal transport of Mn(2+) ions from localized regions of the anterior visual pathways to the subcortical midbrain nuclei. Future MEMRI studies are envisioned that measure the topographic changes in brain development, diseases, plasticity and regeneration therapies in a global and longitudinal setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Female
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Manganese / pharmacology*
  • Ophthalmic Artery / physiology
  • Optic Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Optic Nerve / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Pathways / drug effects
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*


  • Manganese