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Optic Tract
Nervous System

Optic Tract

Tractus opticus

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Quick Facts

Origin: Optic chiasm.

Course: Runs posteriorly, inferior to the cortex, towards the lateral geniculate nucleus.

Branches: None.

Supply: Conveys visual information to the cerebral cortex.

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The optic tract originates at the posterior margin of the optic chiasm.


The optic tract runs posterior and slightly laterally from the optic chiasm, wrapping around the cerebral peduncle before penetrating the brain and sending axons to its targets.


The optic tract does not branch external to the cortex. Within the cortex however, axons are sent to several different locations, including the lateral geniculate nucleus, superior colliculus, suprachiasmatic nucleus, and pretectal nuclei.

Supplied Structures

The optic tract is sensory, conveying visual information to several parts of the brain. The majority of fibers carrying visual information travel to the lateral geniculate nucleus, where it will be relayed to the primary visual cortex.

Additional fibers travel to the superior colliculus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and pretectal nuclei. This information is involved in reflexive actions such as the pupillary light reflex, accommodation reflex, and reflexive eye movements.

List of Clinical Correlates

- Visual deficits

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Optic Tract

ScienceDirect image

In the proximal optic tract there is a 90° inward rotation of fibers such that inferior retinal axons from each eye become positioned laterally and those from the superior retinas become positioned medially.

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