The midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) plays a central role in the descending control of vocalization across vertebrates. The PAG has also been implicated in auditory-vocal integration, although its precise role in such integration remains largely unexplored. Courtship and territorial interactions in plainfin midshipman fish depend on vocal communication, and the PAG is a central component of the midshipman vocal-motor system. We made focal neurobiotin injections into the midshipman PAG to both map its auditory-vocal circuitry and allow evolutionary comparisons with tetrapod vertebrates. These injections revealed an extensive bidirectional pattern of connectivity between the PAG and known sites in both the descending vocal-motor and the ascending auditory systems, including portions of the telencephalon, dorsal thalamus, hypothalamus, posterior tuberculum, midbrain, and hindbrain. Injections in the medial PAG produced dense label within hindbrain auditory nuclei, whereas those confined to the lateral PAG preferentially labeled hypothalamic and midbrain auditory areas. Thus, the teleost PAG may have functional subdivisions playing different roles in vocal-auditory integration. Together the results confirm several pathways previously identified by injections into known auditory or vocal areas and provide strong support for the hypothesis that the teleost PAG is centrally involved in auditory-vocal integration.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.