Excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the nucleus rotundus of pigeons

Hong feng Gao, Gang yi Wu, Barrie J. Frost, Shu rong Wang

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19 Scopus citations


Rotundal neurons in pigeons (Columba livia) were examined for the effects of glutamate and its agonists NMDA and AMPA, antagonists CPP and CNQX, as well as of GABA and its antagonist bicuculline, on visual and tectal stimulation-evoked responses. Glutamate applied by iontophoresis excited all 48 rotundal cells tested, and this excitation was blocked by CNQX but not by CPP in 98% of cases, with 2% of cells being blocked by either CNQX or CPP. Out of 21 cells excited by AMPA, 20 were also excited by NMDA, indicating that AMPA and NMDA receptors may coexist in most rotundal cells. Action potentials were evoked in 36 additional cells by electrical stimulation applied to the tectum and they were also blocked by CNQX but not CPP. Visual responses recorded from a further eight luminance units and 21 motion-sensitive units were also blocked by CNQX and not CPP. On the other hand, GABA inhibited visual responses as well as responses evoked by tectal stimulation. An inhibitory period following tectal stimulation was eliminated by bicuculline. Taken together, these results indicate that glutamate may be an excitatory transmitter acting predominantly through non-NMDA receptors (AMPA receptors) in tectorotundal transmission. Meanwhile, GABA may be an inhibitory transmitter in the pigeon nucleus rotundus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)819-825
Number of pages7
JournalVisual Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems


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