Descending projections of the songbird nucleus robustus archistriatalis

J Comp Neurol. 1993 Dec 8;338(2):225-41. doi: 10.1002/cne.903380207.


The descending, efferent projections of nucleus robustus archistriatalis were investigated in male zebra finches and greenfinches with injections of either biotinylated dextran amine or cholera toxin B-chain conjugated to horseradish peroxidase. The results show that in addition to the well-known projections to the tracheosyringeal motor nucleus and the dorsomedial nucleus of the intercollicular complex, there are other projections of comparable density to the ipsilateral nucleus ambiguus and nucleus retroambigualis. Within nucleus ambiguus, robustus axons terminate in close proximity to laryngeal motoneurons which were retrogradely labelled in the same bird by injections of cholera B-chain into the laryngeal muscles; and within nucleus retroambigualis robustus axons terminate in relation to bulbospinal neurons previously shown to project to regions of spinal cord containing motoneurons innervating abdominal expiratory muscles (J.M. Wild, Brain Res. 606:119-124, 1993). These projections of nucleus robustus thus seem well placed to coordinate syringeal, laryngeal, and expiratory muscle activity during vocalization. Other relatively sparse, but distinct, projections of nucleus robustus were found to nucleus dorsolateralis anterior thalami, pars medialis, to a narrow region between the superior olivary nucleus and the spinal lemniscus, and to the rostral ventrolateral medulla. Neurons in these last two locations were retrogradely labelled bilaterally following injections of cholera B-chain into nucleus retroambigualis of one side. Together with sparse contralateral projections of nucleus robustus to all brainstem targets receiving ipsilateral projections, potential pathways are thus identified by which the respiratory-vocal activity controlled by one side of the lower medulla can be influenced by the nucleus robustus of either side, thereby possibly bringing about bilateral coordination of respiratory-vocal output.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / anatomy & histology*
  • Efferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Respiratory Muscles / innervation*
  • Telencephalon / anatomy & histology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*