Genesis of Visual Connections in the Rhesus Monkey

  • Pasko Rakic
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 27)


The basic afferent connections of the visual system in the rhesus monkey are laid down before birth, although the process of segregation of terminals and synaptogenesis continue into postnatal period. Autoradiographic studies show that projections subserving each eye initially overlap in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGd) and in the cerebral cortex of fetal monkeys. In the LGd, retinal terminals originating from each eye become segregated from each other during the middle of the 165-day gestational period. In the cortex, axons representing each eye are intermixed in layer 4 until three weeks before birth when ocular dominance stripes first begin to emerge. This process of segregation in the distribution of geniculocortical afferents is not completed until the second postnatal month. Cortical efferents also begin to develop at the end of the first half of gestation. Corticogeniculate terminals appear characteristically wedge-shaped and topographically organized by midgestation.

Considerable rearrangement of axon terminals is visible in the mature monkey if one eye is enucleated by intrauterine surgery at critical prenatal stages. Thus, when one eye is enucleated during the first third of gestation and the animal survives until the second postnatal month, the LGd is devoid of laminae and the remaining eye projects diffusely throughout the nucleus. Transneuronally transported tracers indicate that ocular dominance stripes fail to develop in the visual cortex. Thus, it appears that both the development of cellular laminae in the LGd as well as the segregation of afferent connections in both the LGd and cortex may depend on competition between projections subserving the two eyes.


Visual Cortex Rhesus Monkey Primary Visual Cortex Ocular Dominance Lateral Geniculate Body 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pasko Rakic
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Neuroanatomy, School of MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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