The Construction of a Visual System

  • J. S. H. Taylor
  • R. M. Gaze
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 192)


The work presented in this chapter concerns the development of the frog visual system, concentrating upon the specific connections which are formed between the retina and the primary visual center, the optic tectum. Topographic inter-connections between arrays of neurons, are commonly found in the vertebrate CNS and studies of their formation are thought to be central to our understanding of neural connectivity. The frog retinotectal projection, as an example of a topographically organized system, has been extensively used in such investigations. This system offers great advantages for developmental studies, since it continues to grow for many months, and throughout its development all parts of the system can be examined using a variety of methods of analysis. It is also possible to perform operations which perturb the system in a controlled fashion, either in the embryo, or at later stages when the regeneration of the retinal axons can be exploited. A further advantage, which arises naturally as a consequence of the extended period of growth of the system, is the continual and orderly alteration of the connections necessary for maintained function of the system during development.


Ganglion Cell Retinal Ganglion Cell Optic Tract Optic Tectum Retinal Ganglion Cell Axon 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Easter, S. S., and Taylor, J. S. H., 1989, The development of the Xenopus retinotectal pathway: selective fasciculation guides growing axons to their targets, Development, (in press).Google Scholar
  2. Fawcett, J. W., and Gaze, R. M., 1982, The retinotectal fiber pathways from normal and compound eyes in Xenopus, J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol, 72:19.Google Scholar
  3. Gaze, R. M., Feldman, J. D., Cooke, J., and Chung, S. H., 1979, The orientation of the visuotectal map inXenopus; developmental aspects, J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol., 53:39.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Gaze, R. M., and Grant, P., 1978, The diencephalic course of regenerating retinotectal fibres in Xenopus tadpoles, J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol., 44:201.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Gaze, R. M., Keating, M. J., and Chung, S. H., 1974, The evolution of the retinotectal map during development inXenopus, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. [Biol.], 185:301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gaze, R. M., and Straznicky, C., 1980, Stable programming for map orientation in disarranged embryonic eyes in Xenopus, J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol., 55:143.Google Scholar
  7. Holt, C. E., 1984, Does timing of axon outgrowth influence retinotectal topography in Xenopusl, J. Neurosci., 4:1130.Google Scholar
  8. Holt, C. E., and Harris, W. A., 1986, Order in the initial retinotectal map in Xenopus: a new technique for labelling growing nerve fibres, Nature, 301:50.Google Scholar
  9. Ide, C. F., Reynolds, P., and Tompkins, R., 1984, Two healing patterns correlate with different neural connectivity patterns in regenerating embryonic Xenopus retinae, J. Exp. Zool, 230:71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jacobson, M., and Hunt, R. K., 1973, Origins of neuronal specificity, Sci. Arn., 228:26.Google Scholar
  11. Jenkins, S., and Straznicky, C., 1986, Naturally occurring and induced cell death: a retinal whole mount autoradiographic study inXenopus, Anat. Embryol., 174:59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. O’Rourke, N. A., and Fraser, S. E., 1986a, Dynamic aspects of retinotectal map formation revealed by a vital-dye fiber-tracing technique, Dev. Biol., 114:265.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. O’Rourke, N. A., and Fraser, S. E., 1986b, Pattern regulation in the eye bud of Xenopus studies with a vital-dye fiber-tracing technique, Dev. Biol., 114:277.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. O’Rourke, N. A., and Fraser, S. E., 1989, Gradual appearance of a regulated retinotectal projection pattern in Xenopus laevis, Dev. Biol., 132:251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Raymond, P. A., Easter, S. S. jnr., Burnham, J. A., and Powers, M.K., 1983, Postembryonic growth of the optic tectum in goldfish; II modulation of cell proliferation by retinal fiber input, J. Neurosci., 5:1092.Google Scholar
  16. Scalia, F., and Fite, K., 1974, A retinotopic analysis of the central connections of the optic nerve of the frog, J. Comp. Neurol., 158:455.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schmidt, J. T., 1978, Retinal fibres alter tectal positional markers during the expansion of the half retinal projection in goldfish, J. Comp. Neurol., 177:279.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Silver, J., and Rutishauser, U., 1984, Guidance of optic axons in vivo by a preformed adhesive pathway on neuroepithelial endfeet, Dev. Biol., 106:485.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sperry, R. W., 1963, Chemoaffinity in the orderly growth of nerve fiber patterns and connections, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 50:703.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Straznicky, C., and Gaze, R. M., 1971, The growth of the retina in Xenopus laevis; an autoradiographic study, J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol., 26:67.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Straznicky, C., and Gaze, R. M., 1972, The development of the tectum in Xenopus laevis: an autoradiographic study, J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol., 28:87.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Straznicky, C., Gaze, R. M., and Keating, M.J., 1981, The development of retinotectal projections from compound eyes in Xenopus, J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol., 62:13.Google Scholar
  23. Tay, D., and Straznicky, C., 1982, The development of the diencephalon in Xenopus, Anat. Embryol., 163:371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Taylor, J. S. H., 1987, Fibre organization and reorganization in the retinotectal projection of Xenopus, Development, 99:393.Google Scholar
  25. Walter, J., Henke-Fahle, S., and Bonhoeffer, F., 1987, Avoidance of posterior tectal membranes by temporal retinal axons, Development, 101:909.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Wilson, M. A., Taylor, J .S . H., and Gaze, R. M., 1988, A developmental and ultrastructural study of the optic chiasma in Xenopus, Development, 102:537.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. S. H. Taylor
    • 1
  • R. M. Gaze
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. Human AnatomyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.MRC Neural Development and Regeneration GroupUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

Personalised recommendations