The distribution of substance P (SP), leucine-enkephalin (LENK), serotonin (5HT), dopamine (DA), and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) was examined in the forebrain of the white sturgeon in order to evaluate several anatomical hypotheses based on cytoarchitectonics, and to gain a better understanding of the evolution of the forebrain in ray-finned fishes. The subpallium of the telencephalon has the highest concentration of the neuropeptides SP and LENK, allowing the pallial-subpallial border to be easily distinguished. The distribution of dopamine is similar to that of serotonin in the subpallium, fibers positive for these transmitters are particularly dense in the dorsal and ventral divisions of the subpallium. In addition, a small population of DA- and 5HT-positive cell bodies – which appear to be unique to sturgeons – was identified at the level of the anterior commissure. The internal granular layer of the olfactory bulbs had large numbers of TH-positive cell bodies and fibers, as did the rostral subpallium. The occurrence of cell bodies positive for LENK in the dorsal nucleus of the rostral subpallium supports the hypothesis that this nucleus is homologous to the striatum in other vertebrates. This is further reinforced by the apparent origin of an ascending dopaminergic pathway from cells in the posterior tubercle that are likely homologous to the ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra in land vertebrates. Finally, the differential distribution of SP and TH in the pallium supports the hypothesis that the pallium, or area dorsalis, can be divided medially into a rostral division (Dm), a caudal division (Dp) that is the main pallial target of secondary olfactory projections, and a narrow lateral division (Dd+Dl) immediately adjacent to the attachment of the tela choroidea along the entire rostrocaudal length of the telencephalic hemisphere.

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