The structural and functional characteristics of tectospinal neurons in the golden hamster

Robert W. Rhoades, Richard D. Mooney, Bradley G. Klein, Mark F. Jacquin, Ann Marie Szczepanik, Nicolas L. Chiaia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Intracellular recording and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) injection techniques were used to delineate the structural and functional characteristics of the superior collicular cells in the hamster, which could be antidromically activated from the first cervical segment of the spinal cord. Thirty‐one such neurons were characterized, filled with HRP, and recovered. Complete physiological data were obtained from another 21 tectospinal cells for which anatomical data were sufficient only to define the laminar location of the cell body from which recordings were made. Of the total sample of 52 cells, 7.7% had their somata in the stratum griseum intermediale (SGI), 50% were in the stratum album intermedium (SAI), 36.5% were in the stratum griseum profundum (SGP), and 5.8% were in the stratum album profundum (SAP). The tectospinal cells were fairly uniform morphologically. They had large (27.7 ± 5.5 μm diameter) cell bodies, which gave rise to an average of 6.7 ± 1.2 primary dendrites. These were generally smooth and extended up to 500 μm away from the cell body. In many cases, they ascended out of the deep laminae into the stratum opticum (SO) and/or stratum griseum superficiale (SGS). The axons of TS cells averaged 3.4 ± 0.8 μm in diameter, and they generally coursed radially to the SAP where they curved around the periaqueductal gray and entered the predorsal bundle. These axons often gave rise to collaterals that arborized in the deep laminae of the ipsilateral superior colliculus and subjacent reticular formation. The tectospinal cells were also fairly uniform physiologically. Their average conduction latency was 2.0 ± 2.3 ms, and this variable had a strong negative correlation (−.81) with axon diameter for the recovered cells. Most (63.5%) of the TS cells were exclusively somatosensory and gave rapidly adapting responses to deflection of vibrissae and/or guard hairs; 7.7% were bimodal (visual‐somatosensory); 11.5% had complex (Rhoades et al., '83) somatosensory receptive fields; 1.9% were discharged only by a noxious pinch, and 15.4% were unresponsive. A common feature of all bimodal tectospinal neurons was dendrites that extended at least as far dorsally as the SO. Whereas there were no other clear‐cut correlations between the structural and functional characteristics of these tectal neurons, we did note that all of the cells with complex somatosensory receptive fields received inhibitory input from axons that either originated from, or passed through, the contralateral superior colliculus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-465
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 15 1987


  • HRP injection
  • Hamster
  • intracellular recording
  • superior colliculus


Dive into the research topics of 'The structural and functional characteristics of tectospinal neurons in the golden hamster'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this