Hypothalamic projections to the optic tectum in larval zebrafish

Lucy A. Heap, Gilles C. Vanwalleghem, Andrew W. Thompson, Itia Favre-Bulle, Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Ethan K. Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The optic tectum of larval zebrafish is an important model for understanding visual processing in vertebrates. The tectum has been traditionally viewed as dominantly visual, with a majority of studies focusing on the processes by which tectal circuits receive and process retinally-derived visual information. Recently, a handful of studies have shown a much more complex role for the optic tectum in larval zebrafish, and anatomical and functional data from these studies suggest that this role extends beyond the visual system, and beyond the processing of exclusively retinal inputs. Consistent with this evolving view of the tectum, we have used a Gal4 enhancer trap line to identify direct projections from rostral hypothalamus (RH) to the tectal neuropil of larval zebrafish. These projections ramify within the deepest laminae of the tectal neuropil, the stratum album centrale (SAC)/stratum griseum periventriculare (SPV), and also innervate strata distinct from those innervated by retinal projections. Using optogenetic stimulation of the hypothalamic projection neurons paired with calcium imaging in the tectum, we find rebound firing in tectal neurons consistent with hypothalamic inhibitory input. Our results suggest that tectal processing in larval zebrafish is modulated by hypothalamic inhibitory inputs to the deep tectal neuropil.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135
JournalFrontiers in Neuroanatomy
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Hypothalamus
  • Optogenetics
  • SPIM (selective plane illumination microscopy)
  • Superior colliculus
  • Tectum
  • Zebrafish


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