Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 151–167

Brightness and pattern discrimination deficits in the pigeon after lesions of nucleus rotundus

  • William Hodos
  • Harvey J. Karten


Pigeons were trained to peck one of two discs on which were projected visual stimuli. One brightness and three pattern discrimination problems were presented. Correct responses were rewarded with grain. After the discriminations were learned, bilateral electrolytic lesions were placed stereotaxically in 13 birds, and sham operations were performed in three birds. Those birds with lesions in nucleus rotundus demonstrated severe deficits in performance of the visual discriminations. Following prolonged post-operative retraining, a gradual return to pre-operative levels of performance was observed. The post-operative relearning proceeded at a much slower rate than the pre-operative learning. Control birds with lesions in dorsal thalamus, telencephalon and mesencephalon, or sham operations, all showed considerable post-operative savings. On the basis of the anatomical, electrophysiological and behavioral data available at present, nucleus rotundus appears to be a thalamic relay of visual information from optic tectum to telencephalon in the bird.

Key Words

Nucleus Rotundus Visual Discrimination Pigeons Thalamic Lesions 



Ansa Lenticularis

Ant Comm

Anterior Commissure

D Th

Dorsal Thalamus


Lateral Forebrain Bundle

L Gd

Lateral Geniculate Nucleus, Pars Dorsalis

L Gv

Lateral Geniculate Nucleus, Pars Ventralis


Occipito-Mesencephalic Tract

Op Ch

Optic Chiasm

Op Tr

Optic Tract


Nucleus Ovoidalis


Pretectal Nuclei


Nucleus Rotundus

Rot Ect Tr

Rotundo-Ectostriatal Tract




Septo-Mesencephalic Tract

Spir Lat

Nucleus Spiriformis Lateralis

Spir Med

Nucleus Spirformis Medialis

St M

Stria Medullaris


Subpretectal Nucleus




Nucleus Triangularis


Tecto-Thalamic Tract


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altman, J., and M.B. Carpenter: Fiber projections of the superior colliculus in the cat. J. comp. Neurol. 116, 157–178 (1961).Google Scholar
  2. Clark, W.E. Le Gros: The structure and connections of the thalamus. Brain 55, 406–470 (1932).Google Scholar
  3. Cowan, W.M., L. Adamson and T.P.S., Powell: An experimental study of the avian visual system. J. Anat. (Lond.) 95, 545–563 (1961).Google Scholar
  4. Craigie, E.H.: Observations on the brain of the humming bird (Chrysolampis mosquitus Linn. and Chlorostilbon caribaeus Lawr.). J. comp. Neurol. 45, 377–481 (1928).Google Scholar
  5. —, and R.M. Brickner: Structural parallelism in the midbrain and tweenbrain of teleosts and of birds. Kon. Akad. v. Wetensch. te Amsterdam. Proc. sect. sc. 30, 695–704 (1927).Google Scholar
  6. Edinger, L., A. Wallenberg and G. Holmes: Untersuchungen über die vergleichende Anatomie des Gehirns. V. Das Vorderhirn der Vögel. Abhandl. d. Senckenb. Nat. Ges. Frankfurt am Main, Bd. 20, Heft 4, 343–426 (1903).Google Scholar
  7. Ingvar, S.: On thalamic evolution. Acta med. scand. 59, 696–709 (1923).Google Scholar
  8. Kappers, C.U.A.: Die vergleichende Anatomie des Nervensystems des Menschen. Haarlem, 1921.Google Scholar
  9. —, G.C. Huber and E.C. Crosby: The comparative anatomy of the nervous system of the vertebrates, including man. New York: The MacMillan Co. 1936.Google Scholar
  10. Karten, H.J.: Projections of the optic tectum of the pigeon (Columba livia). Anat. Rec. 151, 369 (1965).Google Scholar
  11. Karten, H.J., and W. Hodos: A Stereotaxic Atlas of the Brain of the Pigeon (Columba livia). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (in press).Google Scholar
  12. Layman, J.D.: The avian visual system. I. Cerebral functions of the domestic fowl in pattern vision. Comp. Psychol. Monogr. 12, 58 (1936).Google Scholar
  13. Morest, D. K.: Identification of homologous neurons in the posterolateral thalamus of cat and Virginia opossum. Anat. Rec. 151, 390 (1965).Google Scholar
  14. Munzer, E., and H. Wiener: Beiträge zur Anatomie und Physiologie des Centrainerven-systems der Taube. Mschr. Psychiat. Neurol. 3–4, 379–406 (1898).Google Scholar
  15. Ramon, P.: Centros opticos de las aves. Rev. trimestr. micrograf. 3, 141–197 (1898).Google Scholar
  16. Tarlov, E.: The distribution of ascending efferents of the superior colliculus in the brain of the rabbit. Anat. Rec. 151, 425 (1965).Google Scholar
  17. Zeigler, H.P.: Effects of endbrain lesions upon visual discrimination learning in pigeons. J. comp. Neurol. 120, 161–182 (1963).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Hodos
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Harvey J. Karten
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege Park
  2. 2.the Walter Reed Army Institute of ResearchWashington. D.C.
  3. 3.Department of Experimental PsychologyWalter Reed Army Institute of ResearchWashington, D.C.
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge

Personalised recommendations