The projections of a third order gustatory relay in the dorsal pons of rats have been traced using tritiated proline autoradiography and antidromic activation of pontine neurons from electrodes in the thalamus and amygdala. Labelled axons collect in the central tegmental tract and ascend to the thalamic taste area in the medial extension of the ventrobasal complex. The majority of the fibers remain ipsilateral, but a few cross in the rostral pons and midbrain. The largest crossing occurs at the level of the thalamic termination. Many fascicles of fibers continue rostrally by passing beneath the thalamic taste area, piercing the medial lemniscus, and spreading out along the dorsomedial corner of the internal capsule (IC). The terminal field at this level caps IC from the subthalamic nucleus down into the far‐lateral hypothalamus. Labelled axons gradually penetrate through the internal capsule, and ramify throughout the underlying substantia innominata. This terminal zone extends laterally into the rostral end of the central nucleus of the amygdala, which is densely labelled to its caudal extremity. At the caudal end of the amygdala labelled fibers are visible in one component of the stria terminalis. These fibers can be followed over the dorsal thalamus into a smaller, but equally dense terminal area in the dorsolateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. The electrophysiological data demonstrate that pontine gustatory units can be antidromically activated by electrodes located in or near the central nucleus of the amygdala. Since many of the same units can also be driven from the thalamic taste area, at least some of the axons traced autoradiographically probably convey gustatory information to the hypothalamus and amygdala.
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