Origin of Mammalian Thalamocortical Projections. I. Telencephalic Projections of the Medial Geniculate Body in the Opossum (Didelphis Virginiana)

J Comp Neurol. 1986 Mar 8;245(2):176-97. doi: 10.1002/cne.902450205.


Telencephalic projections from the medial geniculate nucleus (MG) in opossum were traced with tritiated leucine autoradiography and by horseradish peroxidase and fluorescent dye retrograde labeling techniques. The results show that the opossum's MG contains two separate populations of neurons-one in the anterior two-thirds of MG projecting to auditory neocortex, the other occupying the entire caudal one-third of MG and projecting mostly to lateral amygdala and putamen. Because the subcortical projection of the MG in opossum is larger than that seen in any other mammal to date, it is reminiscent of the subcortical projections of the MG in reptiles and birds. Furthermore, when the subcortical projections of the MG in reptiles and opossums are compared with similar subcortical projections of the MG in rats, cats, and monkeys, the proportion of the MG neurons projecting to subcortical structures is seen to be inversely related to the recency of each animal's common ancestry with primates. The possibility that the subcortical projection of the MG in mammals is homologous with that seen in reptiles or birds implies that it might be a dwindling vestige of the projection present in the common ancestry of reptiles and mammals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Axonal Transport
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / anatomy & histology*
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Leucine
  • Neurons, Afferent / classification
  • Opossums / anatomy & histology*


  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Leucine