Development of the visual callosal cell distribution in the rat: Mature features are present at birth Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • AbstractIn the present study, the early postnatal distribution and subsequent fate of visual callosal neurons were studied in neonatal rat pups. Previous studies had indicated that the adult pattern of visual callosal neurons was sculpted from an initially uniform distribution in the neonatal cortex. To reexamine this issue, we used a sensitive tracer, latex microspheres conjugated either to rhodamine or fluorescein, that was injected into the occipital cortex of one hemisphere in pups on the day of birth (PND 1), PND 6, or PND 12. Examination of the resulting retrograde labeling of cortical neurons in the opposite hemisphere indicates that features of the mature visual callosal pattern are present as early as PND 1. At all stages of postnatal development, the relative density of callosal projection cells varies consistently across the mediolateral extent of primary visual cortex —it is always highest in the region of the 17/18a border and lowest in the body of area 17. These data strongly suggest that, from the outset, visual cortical neurons in the region of the 17/18a border preferentially make connections with the opposite hemisphere. The results of experiments in which callosal neurons were labeled on the day of birth indicate that only those neurons that have migrated to their final cortical destinations have extended callosal axons into the vicinity of the visual cortex in the opposite hemisphere. The initial pattern of callosal neurons resembles a dense, compact version of the mature one, and the present study suggests that much of the remaining change in the appearance of this pathway may be accounted for by the decrease in the overall density of neurons that is due to expansion of the cortical gray matter during postnatal life. Taken together, these results suggest that the development of the visual callosal pathway in the rat may be more similar to that in the monkey than has been reported previously.

publication date

  • September 1996