Projections of the dorsomedial nucleus of the intercollicular complex (DM) in relation to respiratory-vocal nuclei in the brainstem of pigeon (Columba livia) and zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

J Comp Neurol. 1997 Jan 20;377(3):392-413. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(19970120)377:3<392::aid-cne7>;2-y.


Injections of neuronal tracers were made into the dorsomedial nucleus of the intercollicular complex (DM) of pigeons and zebra finches in order to investigate the projections of this nucleus which has long been implicated in respiratory-vocal control. Despite the fact that pigeons are nonsongbirds and zebra finches are songbirds, the projections were very similar in both species. Most descended throughout the brainstem, taking ventral and dorsal trajectories, which merged in the medulla. Those descending ventrally terminated upon the ventrolateral parabrachial nucleus (PBvl), the nucleus infraolivaris superior, a nucleus of the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVL), and the nucleus retroambigualis (RAm). Those taking a dorsal trajectory via the occipitomesencephalic tract terminated in the tracheosyringeal part of the hypoglossal nucleus (XIIts), the suprahypoglossal region, and nucleus retroambigualis. There were also substantial projections throughout an arc extending between XIIts and RVL rostrally, and XIIts and RAm caudally. Neurons throughout this arc, which include inspiratory premotor neurons at levels straddling the obex and expiratory premotor neurons more caudally (in RAm), were retrogradely labeled from spinal injections. The DM projections were predominantly ipsilateral, but there were distinct contralateral projections to all the homologous nuclei in both species. All but the projections to PBvl and XIIts were reciprocal. In summary, the projections of DM suggest that it is able to influence all the key motor and premotor nuclei involved in patterned respiratory-vocal activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology*
  • Columbidae
  • Female
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Respiratory Center / anatomy & histology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology