We have discovered a lamina of visually responsive units in the medulla oblongata of the frog. It spans the entire medial aspect of the rostrocaudal length of the medulla and extends dorsoventrally from the cell-dense dorsal zone into the cell-sparse ventral zone. Most visual units within this lamina have large receptive fields, with the majority extending bilaterally in the frontal visual field. Most of these neurons are binocular, have no apparent directional preference, respond equally well to stimuli of a variety of shapes and sizes, and exhibit strong habituation. More medial locations in the visual lamina represent ipsilateral visual space while more lateral locations within the lamina represent contralateral visual space. Many units in the caudal aspect of the visual lamina are bimodal, responding to both visual and somatosensory stimuli. HRP tracing reveals inputs to the lamina from many primary and secondary visual areas in the midbrain and diencephalon. There is no area-by-area segregation of the projections to the visual lamina. For example, most parts of the tectum project across the visual lamina. The only spatial order in the visual lamina is that at more medial sites there tends to be more input from contralateral tectum; and at more lateral sites there tends to be more input from ipsilateral tectum. There is bilateral input to the visual lamina from tectum, tegmentum, posterior nucleus of the thalamus, posterior tuberculum, and ventromedial thalamic nucleus. There is ipsilateral input to the visual lamina from torus semicircularis, pretectum, nucleus of Bellonci, and ventrolateral thalamic nucleus. There is contralateral input to the visual lamina from basal optic complex. Collectively, these results show the presence of visual influences in regions of the medulla that likely represent an important step in sensorimotor transformation.
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