To identify the midbrain nuclei that project to the medial part of the lower brainstem in the monkey, labeled cells were mapped in the midbrain following the injection of horseradish peroxidase into the medial medulla oblongata. After the general distribution of labeled cells was observed in three animals with large injections, more discrete injections of HRP were made in different locations in six additional animals. The small injections were centered in the nucleus raphe magnus, nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis, or nucleus medullae oblongatae centralis. The five labeled midbrain nuclei were the periaqueductal gray, nucleus cuneiformis, deep layers of the superior colliculus, nucleus of Darkschewitsch, and the interstitial nucleus of Cajal. In addition, the parvocellular division of the red nucleus and the posterior pretectal nucleus contained large numbers of cells when the injection spread into the inferior olive. No major differences in the distribution of labeled cells between different injection sites were found with the exception that the superior colliculus did not contain any labeled cells when the injection was restricted to midline structures. The functional implications of these anatomical findings are discussed in relation to the descending control of pain.
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