The functional organization of the avian visual system
This chapter presents a brief account of the functional organization of the avian visual system. It provides detail about the retina of pigeons and chicks. Both have a central retinal area of enhanced vision, where ganglion cell densities reach up to forty-one thousand cells per mm2 in the pigeon and twenty-four thousand cells per mm2 in the chick. The colouring arises from the inclusion in the cone receptor cells of brightly coloured oil-droplets, which are differentially distributed throughout the retina. Visual information is transmitted either directly with axodendritic contacts or with interneurons to the cells of layer thirteen, which project to the n. rotundus in the thalamus. Comparing the thalamofugal pathway of chicks, pigeons, and barn owls reveals substantial differences between these three species. Experiments to reveal information about functional differences between the visual pathways of birds are going on.
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