In the bird, biochemical and histochemical data suggest that the neurotransmitter between nucleus isthmi pars magnocellularis (Imc) and tectum is either acetylcholine or glutamate. There are, however, discrepancies regarding the functional role of acetylcholine. In the present study we investigated the action of acetylcholine and glutamate and their specific antagonists on excitatory isthmo-tectal synaptic transmission using electrophysiological and microiontophoretic techniques. The results show two different population of cells: (1) excitatory cholinergic input, blocked by atropine sulphate but not by glutamate antagonist; (2) excitatory glutamatergic input of NMDA or non-NMDA receptor type, which is blocked or reduced by CPP or CNQX but not by atropine sulphate.
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