Interconnections between the primate cerebellum and midbrain near‐response regions

Academic Article


  • The goal of this study was to determine the pattern of the connections between the midbrain and cerebellum that may play a role in the modulation of the near‐response in the macaque. Injection of the retrograde tracer wheat germ agglutinin conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA‐HRP) into the physiologically identified midbrain near‐response region, which includes the supraoculomotor area, labelled cells throughout the deep cerebellar nuclei. However, labelled cells were particularly concentrated in the ventrolateral corner of the contralateral posterior interposed nucleus and in the contralateral and, to a lesser extent, the ipsilateral fastigial nuclei. Subsequently, injections of WGA‐HRP were used to define the midbrain terminations of the deep cerebellar nuclei. Fastigial nucleus injections labelled terminals in a band along the border between the oculomotor nucleus and the supraoculomotor area that included the Edinger‐Westphal nucleus. Injections of the posterior interposed nucleus labelled terminals in the portion of the supraoculomotor area dorsal to the fastigial projection and did not involve the Edinger‐Westphal nucleus. In both cases, the terminal label was primarily found contralaterally. In contrast, retrogradely labelled cells were primarily found ipsilaterally within the supraoculomotor area following cerebellar injections. Retrogradely labelled cells projecting to the deep nuclei were also found bilaterally in the anteromedian nucleus, along with sparse terminal label. Taken as a whole, these results demonstrate the presence of a highly specific pattern of labelling in the supraoculomotor area, which may indicate that the posterior interposed nucleus and the fastigial nucleus play different roles in the control of the near‐response. Alternatively, these projections may subserve other functions, such as modulating the pupillary light reflex. The fact that the projection from the deep nuclei is primarily contralateral, while the supraoculomotor projection to the deep nuclei is primarily ipsilateral, suggests that this may not be a simple feedback system, but may instead be involved in balancing the gains in the two eyes. In sum, physiological experiments have indicated the presence of near‐response neurons in the midbrain supraoculomotor area and have indicated that the cerebellum may play a role in modulating the components of the near‐response, as well as activity in the intrinsic eye muscles. The present experiments suggest a pattern of connections that might subserve this cerebellar modulation. Copyright © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • May PJ; Porter JD; Gamlin PDR
  • Start Page

  • 98
  • End Page

  • 116
  • Volume

  • 315
  • Issue

  • 1