Axonal patterns and sites of termination of cat superior colliculus neurons projecting in the tecto-bulbo-spinal tract

Exp Brain Res. 1982;46(2):243-56. doi: 10.1007/BF00237182.


Horseradish peroxidase was injected in the somata or axons of neurons located in the intermediate and deep layers of the superior colliculus. A group of 34 neurons with physiologically identified projection in the predorsal bundle (tectobulbo-spinal neurons, TBSNs) and two commissural tecto-tectal neurons were characterized with regard to soma-dendritic profiles, axon trajectories, collateral branching, and terminations. TBSNs belong to the class of large, multipolar, wide field neurons. They send axons through the deep white layer without generating local collaterals. Prior to decussation, all TBSNs bifurcate into an ascending branch which reaches the caudal diencephalon, and a main axon descending to the medulla or spinal cord. Regularly spaced collaterals supply a variety of structures at all rostro-caudal levels. In the midbrain, preterminal and terminal ramifications are present in the medial and lateral reticular tegmentum, in the central grey (including its supraoculo-motor zone), in the nuclei of Cajal and Dark-schewitsch and in the medial aspects of the prerubral area and the fields of Forel. Rhombencephalic targets of TBSNs include the medial pontine and bulbar reticular formation, the abducens nucleus, the nucleus reticularis tegmenti pontis and the nucleus prepositus hypoglossi. An increased density of terminal ramifications was found in several brain stem regions related to the control of eye and head movements. The widespread connections of each individual TBSN suggest that neurons of this type may provide a spatio-temporal pattern of facilitation which promotes rapid orientation of eyes, head and body towards the contralateral hemifield but does not specify the details of movement to be executed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology*
  • Cats
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Eye Movements
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Medulla Oblongata / anatomy & histology
  • Mesencephalon / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Pons / anatomy & histology
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology*
  • Superior Colliculi / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Horseradish Peroxidase