Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 September 1999
We analyzed postsynaptic potentials and dye-labeled morphology of tectal neurons responding to electrical stimulation of the optic nerve and of the nucleus isthmi in a reptile, Gekko gekko, in order to compare with previously reported interactions between the optic tectum and the nucleus isthmi in amphibians and birds. The results indicate that isthmic stimulation exerts inhibitory and excitatory actions on tectal cells, similar to dual isthmotectal actions in amphibians. It appears that dual actions of the isthmotectal pathway in amphibians and reptiles are shared by two subdivisions of the nucleus isthmi in birds. The morphology of tectal cells responding to isthmic stimulation is generally similar to that of tectoisthmic projecting neurons, but they differ particularly in that some tectoisthmic cells bear numerous varicosities whereas cells receiving isthmic afferents do not. Thus, it is likely that at least some tectoisthmic cells may not be in the population of tectal cells that can be affected by isthmic stimulation. Forty-four percent of injections resulted in dye-coupled labeling, suggesting extensive electrical connections between tectal cells in reptiles.