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Brain: Pretectal area
Latin area pretectalis
Gray's subject #
Part of
BrainInfo/UW hier-450
MeSH [1]

The pretectum, also known as the pretectal area, is a region of neurons found between the thalamus and midbrain. It receives binocular sensory input from retinal ganglion cells of the eyes, and is the region responsible for maintaining the pupillary light reflex.[1]


The pretectum, after receiving binocular input, outputs to the Edinger-Westphal nucleus in the midbrain,

The Edinger-Westphal nucleus projects onto the ciliary ganglion, whose output controls pupillary constriction (miosis).

The Edinger-Westphal nucleus controls the Pupillary sphincter muscle (used in situations of bright light to reduce the exposure of the retina) and the Ciliary muscle (used for eye focusing and accommodation).

The Cilio-Spinal Nucleus projects onto the superior cervical ganglion, and controls the Pupillary dilator muscle (used in situations of near dark, to increase the exposure of the retina)


  1. Purves, Dale, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William C. Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, James O. McNamara, and Leonard E. White (2008). Neuroscience. 4th ed., 290–2, Sinauer Associates.

See also

External links

Mesencephalon (midbrain)

cerebral peduncle: midbrain tegmentum (periaqueductal gray, ventral tegmentum, nucleus raphe dorsalis), pretectum, substantia nigra, red nucleus, pedunculopontine nucleus, medial longitudinal fasciculus, medial lemniscus, rubrospinal tract, lateral lemniscus

tectum: corpora quadrigemina, inferior colliculi, superior colliculi

cerebral aqueduct: oculomotor nucleus, trochlear nucleus, Edinger-Westphal nucleus

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