Classes of neurons in relation to the laminar organization of the lateral geniculate nucleus in the tree shrew, Tupaia belangeri

J Comp Neurol. 1987 May 1;259(1):31-49. doi: 10.1002/cne.902590104.


We used the rapid Golgi and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) techniques to study the dendritic spread of relay neurons in functionally distinct laminae of the tree shrew dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGNd). On the basis of their dendritic spread in relation to laminar and interlaminar zones, we describe three classes of relay neurons. Unilaminar neurons with multipolar radiate, bitufted, and intermediate types of dendrites. Dendrites of these neurons are confined to one lamina only, but also can have some of their segments in adjacent interlaminar zones. Multilaminar neurons with multipolar radiate, bitufted, and intermediate types of dendrites. Independent of the site of their cell bodies in a laminar or interlaminar zone, these neurons spread their dendrites over two or more laminae. Interlaminar neurons whose cell bodies and dendrites are confined to a single interlaminar zone. Unilaminar neurons are found in all the laminae. In the medial three laminae, they are more of the radiate type, whereas in laminae 4 and 5 their dendrites tend to be more of a tufted nature. Lamina 6 shows a preponderance of the elongated bitufted type. Multilaminar neurons, although less common as compared to the unilaminar, are also observed in all the laminae. Some neurons have their dendrites confined to an interlaminar zone. By retrograde transport of HRP injected into the visual cortex, we have shown that these neurons are, in fact, relay neurons. In addition to relay neurons, there are small interneurons with "axoniform" dendrites and an unmyelinated axon whose arborization is confined within the limits of the neuron's dendritic spread. Neurons of this type are not labeled with HRP injected into the visual cortex. We conclude that although each lamina is functionally specialized by input from ipsilateral or contralateral retina and by segregation of neurons responding to on or off stimuli, some multilaminar neurons can be found in each lamina. Thus, laminar as well as interlaminar zones contain a class of neurons that could provide a cross-talk between the functionally specialized laminae. Most relay neurons in all the laminae, however, confine their dendrites to their home lamina. Thus, the dendritic architecture of relay neurons allows for processing of information both within channels and between channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Geniculate Bodies / anatomy & histology*
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Interneurons / classification
  • Interneurons / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neurons / classification*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Tupaiidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology


  • Horseradish Peroxidase