Specificity of retinal ganglion cell projections in the embryonic rhesus monkey

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Perspectives on Developmental Neurobiology






Decussation pattern; Prenatal development; Retinofugal pathway


Recent studies dealing with the organization of retinal projections in the developing rhesus monkey brain have revealed a high degree of developmental specificity. This is demonstrated by the ingrowth patterns of the initial contingents of crossed and uncrossed fibers that form the primordial optic tract as well as by the adult-like nasotemporal retinal decussation pattern evident even before the period of ganglion cell death. On the basis of these observations, it is suggested that early generated retinal fibers are guided through the optic chiasm by a transiently expressed decussation signal, and that later generated fibers utilize retinal position-dependent cues to innervate the appropriate hemisphere. Furthermore, the first retinal fibers to arrive at the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus invade only the presumed parvocellular layers. Thus, the initial innervation of the lateral geniculate nucleus appears to reflect the birth order of retinal ganglion cell classes. It is suggested that the high degree of precision evident in the macaque monkey nasotemporal retinal decussation pattern relates to the adultlike distribution of callosal projection neurons in the developing striate cortex of the primate. © 1996 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) Amsterdam B.V. Published in The Netherlands under license by Gordon and Breach Science Publishers SA.

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