We placed injections of anatomical tracers into representations of the tongue, teeth, and face in the primary somatosensory cortex (area 3b) of macaque monkeys. Our injections revealed strong projections to representations of the tongue and teeth from other parts of the oral cavity responsive region in 3b. The 3b face also provided input to the representations of the intra-oral structures. The primary representation of the face showed a pattern of intrinsic connections similar to that of the mouth. The area 3b hand representation provided little to no input to either the mouth or face representations. The mouth and face representations of area 3b received projections from the presumptive oral cavity and face regions of other somatosensory areas in the anterior parietal cortex and the lateral sulcus including areas 3a, 1, 2, the second somatosensory area (S2), the parietal ventral area (PV), and cortex that may include the parietal rostral (PR) and ventral somatosensory (VS) areas. Additional inputs came from primary motor (M1) and ventral premotor (PMv) areas. This areal pattern of projections is similar to the well-studied pattern revealed by tracer injections in regions of 3b representing the hand. The tongue representation appeared to be unique in area 3b in that it also received inputs from areas in the anterior upper bank of the lateral sulcus and anterior insula that may include the primary gustatory area (area G) and other cortical taste processing areas, as well as a region of lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) lining the principal sulcus.
Somatosensory Cortex; Gustatory Cortex; Taste; Insular Cortex; Motor Cortex
To better reveal the pattern of corticotectal projections to the superficial layers of the superior colliculus (SC), we made a total of ten retrograde tracer injections into the SC of three macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta). The majority of these injections were in the superficial layers of the SC, which process visual information. To isolate inputs to the purely visual layers in the superficial SC from those inputs to the motor and multisensory layers deeper in the SC, two injections were placed to include the intermediate and deep layers of the SC. In another case, an injection was placed in the medial pulvinar, a nucleus not known to be strongly connected with visual cortex, to identify possible projections from tracer spread past the lateral boundary of the SC. Four conclusions are supported by the results: 1) all early visual areas of cortex, including V1, V2, V3, and the middle temporal area, project to the superficial layers of the SC; 2) with the possible exception of the frontal eye field, few areas of cortex outside of the early visual areas project to the superficial SC, although many do, however, project to the intermediate and deep layers of the SC; 3) roughly matching retinotopy is conserved in the projections of visual areas to the SC; and 4) the projections from different visual areas are similarly dense, although projections from early visual areas appear somewhat denser than those of higher order visual areas in macaque cortex.
visual cortex; superior colliculus; frontal eye field; posterior parietal cortex; visual system
We made eight retrograde tracer injections into the middle temporal visual area (MT) of three New World owl monkeys (Aotus nancymaae). These injections were placed across the representation of the retina in MT to allow us to compare the locations of labeled cells in other areas in order to provide evidence for any retinotopic organization in those areas. Four regions projected to MT: 1) early visual areas, including V1, V2, V3, the dorsolateral visual area, and the dorsomedial visual area, provided topographically organized inputs to MT; 2) all areas in the MT complex (the middle temporal crescent, the middle superior temporal area, and the fundal areas of the superior temporal sulcus) projected to MT. Somewhat variably across injections, neurons were labeled in other parts of the temporal lobe; 3) regions in the location of the medial visual area, the posterior parietal cortex, and the lateral sulcus provided other inputs to MT; 4) finally, projections from the frontal eye field, frontal visual field, and prefrontal cortex were also labeled by our injections. These results further establish the sources of input to MT, and provide direct evidence within and across cases for retinotopic patterns of projections from early visual areas to MT.
middle temporal area; visual cortex; parietal cortex
Representations of the parts of the oral cavity and face in somatosensory area 3b of macaque monkeys were identified with microelectrode recordings and injected with different neuroanatomical tracers to reveal patterns of thalamic projections to tongue, teeth, and other representations in primary somatosensory cortex. The locations of injection sites and resulting labeled neurons were further determined by relating sections processed to reveal tracers to those processed for myeloarchitecture in the cortex and multiple architectural stains in the thalamus. The ventroposterior medial sub-nucleus (VPM) for touch was identified as separate from the ventroposterior medial parvicellular nucleus (VPMpc) for taste by differential expression of several types of proteins. Our results revealed somatotopically matched projections from VPM to the part of 3b representing intra-oral structures and the face. Retrogradely labeled cells resulting from injections in area 3b were also found in other thalamic nuclei including: anterior pulvinar (Pa), ventroposterior inferior (VPI), ventroposterior superior (VPS), ventroposterior lateral (VPL), ventral lateral (VL), centre médian (CM), central lateral (CL), and medial dorsal (MD). None of our injections, including those into the representation of the tongue, labeled neurons in VPMpc, the thalamic taste nucleus. Thus, area 3b does not appear to be involved in processing taste information from the thalamus. This result stands in contrast to those reported for New World monkeys.
Somatosensory Cortex; Ventroposterior Thalamus; Gustatory Thalamus
The ventral posterior nucleus of thalamus sends highly segregated inputs into each digit representation in area 3b of primary somatosensory cortex. However, the spatial organization of the connections that link digit representations of areas 3b with other somatosensory areas is less understood. Here we examined the cortical inputs to individual digit representations of area 3b in four squirrel monkeys and one prosimian galago. Retrograde tracers were injected into neurophysiologically defined representations of individual digits of area 3b. Cortical tissues were cut parallel to the surface in some cases and showed that feedback projections to individual digits overlapped extensively in the hand representations of areas 3b, 1, and parietal ventral (PV) and second somatosensory (S2) areas. Other regions with overlapping populations of labeled cells included area 3a and primary motor cortex (M1). The results were confirmed in other cases in which the cortical tissues were cut in the coronal plane. The same cases also showed that cells were primarily labeled in the infragranular and supragranular layers. Thus, feedback projections to individual digit representations in area 3b mainly originate from multiple digits and other portions of hand representations of areas 3b, 1, PV, and S2. This organization is in stark contrast to the segregated thalamocortical inputs, which originate in single digit representations and terminate in the matching digit representation in the cortex. The organization of feedback connections could provide a substrate for the integration of information across the representations of adjacent digits in area 3b.
spatial integration; hand representation; intrinsic connections; corticocortical connections
The visuomotor functions of the superior colliculus depend not only on direct inputs from the retina, but also on inputs from neocortex. As mammals vary in the areal organization of neocortex, and in the organization of the number of visual and visuomotor areas, patterns of corticotectal projections vary. Primates in particular have a large number of visual areas projecting to the superior colliculus. As tree shrews are close relatives of primates, and they are also highly visual, we studied the distribution of cortical neurons projecting to the superior colliculus by injecting anatomical tracers into the colliculus. Since projections from visuotopically organized visual areas are expected to match the visuotopy of the superior colliculus, injections at different retinotopic locations in the superior colliculus provide information about the locations and organization of topographic areas in extrastriate cortex. Small injections in the superior colliculus labeled neurons in locations within areas 17 (V1) and 18 (V2) that are consistent with the known topography of these areas and the superior colliculus. In addition, the separate locations of clusters of labeled cells in temporal visual cortex provide evidence for five or more topographically organized areas. Injections that included deeper layers of the superior colliculus also labeled neurons in medial frontal cortex, likely in premotor cortex. Only occasional labeled neurons were observed in somatosensory or auditory cortex. Regardless of tracer injection location, we found that unlike primates, a substantial projection to the superior colliculus from posterior parietal cortex is not a characteristic of tree shrews.
superior colliculus; tectum; cortex; evolution
An understanding of the organization of the pulvinar complex in prosimian primates has been somewhat elusive due to the lack of clear architectonic divisions. In the current study, we revealed features of the organization of the pulvinar complex in galagos by examining superior colliculus (SC) projections to this structure and comparing them with staining patterns of the vesicular glutamate transporter, VGLUT2. Cholera toxin subunit β (CTB), fluroruby (FR) and wheat germ agglutinin conjugated with horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) were placed in topographically different locations within the SC. Our results showed multiple topographically organized patterns of projections from the SC to several divisions of the pulvinar complex. At least two topographically distributed projections were found within the lateral region of the pulvinar complex, and two less obvious topographical projection patterns were found within the caudomedial region, in zones that stain darkly for VGLUT2. The results, considered in relation to recent observations in tree shrews and squirrels, suggest that parts of the organizational scheme of the pulvinar complex in primates are present in rodents and other mammals.
primate; tectum; visual system; thalamus; evolution
Neocortex is an important part of the mammalian brain that is quite different from its homologue of the dorsal cortex in the reptilian brain. Whereas dorsal cortex is small, thin, and composed of a single layer of neurons, neocortex is thick and has six layers, while being variable across species in size, number of functional areas, and architectonic differentiation. Early mammals had little neocortex, with perhaps 20 areas of poor structural differentiation. Many extant mammals continue to have small brains with little neocortex, but they often have sensory specializations reflected in the organization of sensory areas in neocortex. In primates, neocortex is variously enlarged and characterized by structural and other specializations, including those of cortical networks devoted to vision and visuomotor processing.In humans, neocortex occupies 80% of the volume of the brain, where as many as 200 areas may exist.
primates; reptiles; dorsal cortex; visual cortex; marsupials; monotremes
Parietal–frontal networks in primate brains are central to mediating actions. Physiological and anatomical investigations have shown that the parietal–frontal network is consistently organized across several branches of primate evolution that include prosimian galagos, New World owl and squirrel monkeys, and Old World macaque monkeys. Electrical stimulation with 0.5-sec trains of pulses delivered via microelectrodes evoked ethologically relevant actions from both posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and frontal motor cortex (FMC). Reaching, grasping, defensive, and other complex movement patterns were evoked from domains that had a characteristic organization in both FMC and PPC. Although a PPC domain (e.g. reaching) may be connected with other PPC domains (e.g. grasping and defensive), its connections with FMC are preferential for a matching domain (reaching). Similarly, electrical stimulation of a PPC domain and concurrent optical imaging of FMC, showed activation patterns consistent with the preferential connectivity of PPC and FMC domains. The evidence for similar arrangements of interconnected functional domains in PPC and FMC of members of three major branches of the primate radiation suggests that the parietal–frontal networks emerged early in the evolution of primates. The small size of PPC in the close relatives of primates including lagomorphs, rodents, and tree shrews, suggests a limited involvement of PPC in motor behavior before archaic primates emerged. However, functional domains may have evolved in motor cortex before the emergence of archaic primates.
motor cortex; posterior parietal cortex; grasping; prosimians
In all primates, the cortical control of hand and arm movements is initiated and controlled by a network of cortical regions including primary motor cortex (M1), premotor cortex (PM), and posterior parietal cortex (PPC). These interconnected regions are influenced by inputs from especially visual and somatosensory cortical areas, and prefrontal cortex. Here we discuss recent evidence showing M1, PM, and PPC can be subdivided into a number of functional zones or domains, including several that participate in guiding and controlling hand and arm movements. Functional zones can be defined by the movement sequences evoked by microstimulation within them, and functional zones related to the same type of movement in all three cortical regions are interconnected. The inactivation of a functional zone in each of the regions has a different impact on motor behavior. Finally, there is considerable plasticity within the networks so that behavioral recoveries can occur after damage to functional zones within a network.
The superior colliculus (SC) is a key structure within the extrageniculate pathway of visual information to cortex and is highly involved in visuomotor functions. Previous studies in anthropoid primates have shown that superficial layers of the SC receive direct inputs from various visual cortical areas such as V1, V2, and middle temporal (MT), while deeper layers receive direct inputs from visuomotor cortical areas within the posterior parietal cortex and the frontal eye fields. Very little is known, however, about the corticotectal projections in prosimian primates. In the current study we investigated the sources of cortical inputs to the SC in prosimian galagos (Otolemur garnetti) using retrograde anatomical tracers placed into the SC. The superficial layers of the SC in galagos received the majority of their inputs from early visual areas and visual areas within the MT complex. Yet, surprisingly, MT itself had relatively few corticotectal projections. Deeper layers of the SC received direct projections from visuomotor areas including the posterior parietal cortex and premotor cortex. However, relatively few corticotectal projections originated within the frontal eye fields. While prosimian galagos resemble other primates in having early visual areas project to the superficial layers of the SC, with higher visuomotor regions projecting to deeper layers, the results suggest that MT and frontal eye field projections to the SC were sparse in early primates, remained sparse in present-day prosimian primates, and became more pronounced in anthropoid primates.
visual cortex; FEF; LIP; MT; primates
Cell and neuron densities vary across the cortical sheet in a predictable manner across different primate species (Collins et al., 2010b). Primary motor cortex, M1, is characterized by lower neuron densities relative to other cortical areas. M1 contains a motor representation map of contralateral body parts from tail to tongue in a mediolateral sequence. Different functional movement representations within M1 likely require specialized microcircuitry for control of different body parts, and these differences in circuitry may be reflected by variation in cell and neuron densities. Here we determined cell and neuron densities for multiple sub-regions of M1 in six primate species, using the semi-automated flow fractionator method. The results verify previous reports of lower overall neuron densities in M1 compared to other parts of cortex in the six primate species examined. The most lateral regions of M1 that correspond to face and hand movement representations, are more neuron dense relative to medial locations in M1, which suggests differences in cortical circuitry within movement zones.
M1; flow fractionator; isotropic fractionator; movement
Intrinsic-signal optical imaging was used to evaluate relationships of domains of neurons in middle temporal visual area (MT) selective for stimulus orientation and direction-of-motion. Maps of activation were elicited in MT of owl monkeys by gratings drifting back-and-forth, flashed stationary gratings and unidirectionally drifting fields of random dots. Drifting gratings, typically used to reveal orientation preference domains, contain a motion component that may be represented in MT. Consequently, this stimulus could activate groups of cells responsive to the motion of the grating, its orientation or a combination of both. Domains elicited from either moving or static gratings were remarkably similar, indicating that these groups of cells are responding to orientation, although they may also encode information about motion. To assess the relationship between domains defined by drifting oriented gratings and those responsive to direction-of-motion, the response to drifting fields of random dots was measured within domains defined from thresholded maps of activation elicited by the drifting gratings. The optical response elicited by drifting fields of random dots was maximal in a direction orthogonal to the map of orientation preference. Thus, neurons in domains selective for stimulus orientation are also selective for motion orthogonal to the preferred stimulus orientation.
orientation columns; cortical modules; visual cortex; direction-of-motion columns; primates
Inferences about how the complex sensory and motor systems of the human brain evolved are based on the results of comparative studies of brain organization across a range of mammalian species, and evidence from the endocasts of fossil skulls of key extinct species. The endocasts of the skulls of early mammals indicate that they had small brains with little neocortex. Evidence from comparative studies of cortical organization from small-brained mammals of the six major branches of mammalian evolution supports the conclusion that the small neocortex of early mammals was divided into roughly 20–25 cortical areas, including primary and secondary sensory fields. In early primates, vision was the dominant sense, and cortical areas associated with vision in temporal and occipital cortex underwent a significant expansion. Comparative studies indicate that early primates had 10 or more visual areas, and somatosensory areas with expanded representations of the forepaw. Posterior parietal cortex was also expanded, with a caudal half dominated by visual inputs, and a rostral half dominated by somatosensory inputs with outputs to an array of seven or more motor and visuomotor areas of the frontal lobe. Somatosensory areas and posterior parietal cortex became further differentiated in early anthropoid primates. As larger brains evolved in early apes and in our hominin ancestors, the number of cortical areas increased to reach an estimated 200 or so in present day humans, and hemispheric specializations emerged. The large human brain grew primarily by increasing neuron number rather than increasing average neuron size.
The failure of injured axons to regenerate following spinal cord injury deprives brain neurons of their normal sources of activation. These injuries also result in the reorganization of affected areas of the central nervous system that is thought to drive both the ensuing recovery of function and the formation of maladaptive neuronal circuitry. Better understanding of the physiological consequences of novel synaptic connections produced by injury and the mechanisms that control their formation are important to the development of new successful strategies for the treatment of patients with spinal cord injuries. Here we discuss the anatomical, physiological and behavioral changes that take place in response to injury-induced plasticity after damage to the dorsal column pathway in rats and monkeys. Complete section of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord at a high cervical level in monkeys and rats interrupts the ascending axon branches of low threshold mechanoreceptor afferents subserving the forelimb and the rest of the lower body. Such lesions render the corresponding part of the somatotopic representation of primary somatosensory cortex totally unresponsive to tactile stimuli. There are also behavioral consequences of the sensory loss, including an impaired use of the hand/forelimb in manipulating small objects. In monkeys, if some of the afferents from the hand remain intact after dorsal column lesions, these remaining afferents extensively reactivate portions of somatosensory cortex formerly representing the hand. This functional reorganization develops over a postoperative period of one month, during which hand use rapidly improves. These recoveries appear to be mediated, at least in part, by the sprouting of preserved afferents within the cuneate nucleus of the dorsal column-trigeminal complex. In rats, such functional collateral sprouting has been promoted by the post-lesion digestion of the perineuronal net in the cuneate nucleus. Thus, this and other therapeutic strategies have the potential of enhancing sensorimotor recoveries after spinal cord injuries in humans.
The large size and complex organization of the human brain makes it unique among primate brains. In particular, the neocortex constitutes about 80% of the brain, and this cortex is subdivided into a large number of functionally specialized regions, the cortical areas. Such a brain mediates accomplishments and abilities unmatched by any other species. How did such a brain evolve? Answers come from comparative studies of the brains of present-day mammals and other vertebrates in conjunction with information about brain sizes and shapes from the fossil record, studies of brain development, and principles derived from studies of scaling and optimal design. Early mammals were small, with small brains, an emphasis on olfaction, and little neocortex. Neocortex was transformed from the single layer of output pyramidal neurons of the dorsal cortex of earlier ancestors to the six layers of all present-day mammals. This small cap of neocortex was divided into 20–25 cortical areas, including primary and some of the secondary sensory areas that characterize neocortex in nearly all mammals today. Early placental mammals had a corpus callosum connecting the neocortex of the two hemispheres, a primary motor area, M1, and perhaps one or more premotor areas. One line of evolution, Euarchontoglires, led to present-day primates, tree shrews, flying lemurs, rodents and rabbits. Early primates evolved from small-brained, nocturnal, insect-eating mammals with an expanded region of temporal visual cortex. These early nocturnal primates were adapted to the fine branch niche of the tropical rainforest by having an even more expanded visual system that mediated visually guided reaching and grasping of insects, small vertebrates, and fruits. Neocortex was greatly expanded, and included an array of cortical areas that characterize neocortex of all living primates. Specializations of the visual system included new visual areas that contributed to a dorsal stream of visuomotor processing in a greatly enlarged region of posterior parietal cortex and an expanded motor system and the addition of a ventral premotor area. Higher visual areas in a large temporal lobe facilitated object recognition, and frontal cortex, included granular prefrontal cortex. Auditory cortex included the primary and secondary auditory areas that characterize prosimian and anthropoid primates today. As anthropoids emerged as diurnal primates, the visual system specialized for detailed foveal vision. Other adaptations included an expansion of prefrontal cortex and insular cortex. The human and chimpanzee-bonobo lineages diverged some 6–8 million years ago with brains that were about one-third the size of modern humans. Over the last two million years, the brains of our more recent ancestors increased greatly in size, especially in the prefrontal, posterior parietal, lateral temporal, and insular regions. Specialization of the two cerebral hemispheres for related, but different functions became pronounced, and language and other impressive cognitive abilities emerged.
The visual pulvinar is part of the dorsal thalamus, and in primates it is especially well developed. Recently, our understanding of how the visual pulvinar is subdivided into nuclei has greatly improved as a number of histological procedures have revealed marked architectonic differences within the pulvinar complex. At the same time, there have been unparalleled advances in understanding of how visual cortex of primates is subdivided into areas and how these areas interconnect. In addition, considerable evidence supports the view that the hierarchy of interconnected visual areas is divided into two major processing streams, a ventral stream for object vision, and a dorsal stream for visually guided actions. In this review, we present evidence that a subset of medial nuclei in the inferior pulvinar function predominantly as a subcortical component of the dorsal stream while the most lateral nucleus of the inferior pulvinar and the adjoining ventrolateral nucleus of the lateral pulvinar are more devoted to the ventral stream of cortical processing. These nuclei provide cortico-pulvinar-cortical interactions that spread information across areas within streams, as well as information relayed from the superior colliculus via inferior pulvinar nuclei to largely dorsal stream areas.
visual system; superior colliculus; visual cortex; thalamus
After 100 years of progress in understanding the organization of cerebral cortex, three issues have persisted over the last 35 years, which are revisited in this paper. First, is V3 an established or questionable area of visual cortex? Second, does taste cortex include part of area 3b (S1 proper) and other somatosensory areas? Third, is primary auditory cortex, A1, of primates the homologue of A1 in cats? The existence of such questions about even the early stages of cortical processing reflects the difficulties in mapping cerebral cortex, and reminds us that the era of basic discovery is far from over.
gustatory cortex; V3; auditory cortex; somatosensory cortex; visual cortex
We can learn about the evolution of neocortex in primates through comparative studies of cortical organization in primates and those mammals that are the closest living relatives of primates, in conjunction with brain features revealed by the skull endocasts of fossil archaic primates. Such studies suggest that early primates had acquired a number of features of neocortex that now distinguish modern primates. Most notably, early primates had an array of new visual areas, and those visual areas widely shared with other mammals had been modified. Posterior parietal cortex was greatly expanded with sensorimotor modules for reaching, grasping, and personal defense. Motor cortex had become more specialized for hand use, and the functions of primary motor cortex were enhanced by the addition and development of premotor and cingulate motor areas. Cortical architecture became more varied, and cortical neuron populations became denser overall than in nonprimate ancestors. Primary visual cortex had the densest population of neurons, and this became more pronounced in the anthropoid radiation. Within the primate clade, considerable variability in cortical size, numbers of areas, and architecture evolved.
prosimians; tarsiers; anthropoids; sensory cortex; motor cortex
Short-tailed opossums (Monodelphis domestica) belong to the branch of marsupial mammals that diverged from eutherian mammals approximately 180 million years ago. They are small in size, lack a marsupial pouch, and may have retained more morphological characteristics of early marsupial neocortex than most other marsupials. In the present study, we used several different histochemical and immunochemical procedures to reveal the architectonic characteristics of cortical areas in short-tailed opossums. Subdivisions of cortex were identified in brain sections cut in the coronal, sagittal, horizontal or tangential planes and processed for a calcium-binding protein, parvalbumin (PV), neurofilament protein epitopes recognized by SMI-32, the vesicle glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2), myelin, cytochrome oxidase (CO), and Nissl substance. These different procedures revealed similar boundaries among areas, suggesting that functionally relevant borders were detected. The results allowed a fuller description and more precise demarcation of previously identified sensory areas, and the delineation of additional subdivisions of cortex. Area 17 (V1) was especially prominent, with a densely populated layer 4, high myelination levels, and dark staining of PV and VGluT2 immunopositive terminations. These architectonic features were present, albeit less pronounced, in somatosensory and auditory cortex. The major findings support the conclusion that short-tailed opossums have fewer cortical areas and their neocortex is less distinctly laminated than most other mammals.
Marsupial; Cortical areas; Visual cortex; Frontal cortex; Somatosensory cortex; Auditory cortex; Retrosplenial cortex; Cingulate cortex
The pulvinar complex of prosimian primates is not as architectonically differentiated as that of anthropoid primates. Thus, the functional subdivisions of the complex have been more difficult to determine. In the present study, we related patterns of connections of cortical visual areas (primary visual area, V1; secondary visual area, V2; and middle temporal visual area, MT) as well as the superior colliculus of the visual midbrain, with subdivisions of the pulvinar complex of prosimian galagos (Otolemur garnetti) that were revealed in brain sections processed for cell bodies (Nissl), cytochrome oxidase, or myelin. As in other primates, the architectonic methods allowed us to distinguish the lateral pulvinar (PL) and inferior pulvinar (PI) as major divisions of the visual pulvinar. The connection patterns further allowed us to divide PI into a large central nucleus (PIc), a medial nucleus (PIm), and a posterior nucleus (PIp). Both PL and PIc have separate topographic patterns of connections with V1 and V2. A third, posterior division of PI, PIp, does not appear to project to V1 and V2 and is further distinguished by receiving inputs from the superior colliculus. All these subdivisions of PI project to MT. The evidence suggests that PL of galagos contains a single, large nucleus, as in monkeys, and that PI may have only three subdivisions, rather than the four subdivisions of monkeys. In addition, the cortical projections of PI nuclei are more widespread than those in monkeys. Thus, the pulvinar nuclei in prosimian primates and anthropoid primates have evolved along somewhat different paths.
superior colliculus; visual cortex; middle temporal area; area 17; area 18; primate evolution; thalamus
The architectonic features of the ventroposterior nucleus (VP) were visualized in coronal brain sections from two macaque monkeys, two owl monkeys, two squirrel monkeys, and three galagos that were processed for cytochrome oxidase, Nissl bodies, or the vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (vGluT2). The traditional ventroposterior medial (VPM) and ventroposterior lateral (VPL) subnuclei were easily identified, as well as the forelimb and hindlimb compartments of VPL, as they were separated by poorly staining, cell-poor septa. Septa also separated other cell groups within VPM and VPL, specifically in the medial compartment of VPL representing the hand (hand VPL). In one squirrel monkey and one galago we demonstrated that these five groups of cells represent digits 1–5 in a mediolateral sequence by injecting tracers into the cortical representation of single digits, defined by microelectrode recordings, and relating concentrations of labeled neurons to specific cell groups in hand VPL. The results establish the existence of septa that isolate the representation of the five digits in VPL of primates and demonstrate that the isolated cell groups represent digits 1–5 in a mediolateral sequence. The present results show that the septa are especially prominent in brain sections processed for vGluT2, which is expressed in the synaptic terminals of excitatory neurons in most nuclei of the brainstem and thalamus. As vGluT2 is expressed in the synaptic terminations from dorsal columns and trigeminal brainstem nuclei, the effectiveness of vGluT2 preparations in revealing septa in VP likely reflects a lack of synapses using glutamate in the septa. J. Comp. Neurol. 519:738–758, 2011.
area 3b; somatosensory maps; digit representation; vGluT2
Connections of primary (V1) and secondary (V2) visual areas were revealed in macaque monkeys ranging in age from 2 to 16 weeks by injecting small amounts of cholera toxin subunit B (CTB). Cortex was flattened and cut parallel to the surface to reveal injection sites, patterns of labeled cells, and patterns of cytochrome oxidase (CO) staining. Projections from the lateral geniculate nucleus and pulvinar to V1 were present at 4 weeks of age, as were pulvinar projections to thin and thick CO stripes in V2. Injections into V1 in 4- and 8-week-old monkeys labeled neurons in V2, V3, middle temporal area (MT), and dorsolateral area (DL)/V4. Within V1 and V2, labeled neurons were densely distributed around the injection sites, but formed patches at distances away from injection sites. Injections into V2 labeled neurons in V1, V3, DL/V4, and MT of monkeys 2-, 4-, and 8-weeks of age. Injections in thin stripes of V2 preferentially labeled neurons in other V2 thin stripes and neurons in the CO blob regions of V1. A likely thick stripe injection in V2 at 4 weeks of age labeled neurons around blobs. Most labeled neurons in V1 were in superficial cortical layers after V2 injections, and in deep layers of other areas. Although these features of adult V1 and V2 connectivity were in place as early as 2 postnatal weeks, labeled cells in V1 and V2 became more restricted to preferred CO compartments after 2 weeks of age.
V1; V2; pulvinar; lateral geniculate nucleus; macaque monkey
Multiple somatosensory cortices of adult primates reorganize following spinal cord injury, but little is known about the temporal dynamics and inter-areal differences of the reorganization. Using longitudinal high-resolution fMRI in combination with microelectrode recordings and tracer histology, we previously illustrated a two-phase dynamic spatial reorganization of digit representations in area 3b within weeks after a unilateral lesion of the dorsal column in squirrel monkeys (Chen et al., 2012). Here we report that higher-order area 1 and secondary somatosensory cortex (S2) underwent similar spatial reorganizations, which were characterized by shifted and expanded digit activations at week 4 after lesion, which then shifted back and contracted by week 8. In addition, the responsiveness of areas 3b and 1, and S2, as measured by the magnitude of the BOLD signal change to tactile stimuli, was reduced markedly at 4 weeks and then recovered to ∼50% of the prelesion level at 8 weeks, a time when behavioral recovery was complete, as assessed by successful food retrieval rates. Across animals, the extents of spatial reorganizations and changes in cortical responsiveness and activation sizes in all three areas were correlated with the degree of afferent disruption. In summary, our data show that more severe afferent disruption was associated with greater cortical plasticity and behavioral impairment. Reorganization that occurred in area 3b, area 1, and S2 were similar across most measures.
dorsal column section; fMRI; hand; nonhuman primates; plasticity; somatosensory cortex
After disruption of dorsal column afferents at high cervical spinal levels in adult monkeys, somatosensory cortical neurons recover responsiveness to tactile stimulation of the hand; this reactivation correlates with a recovery of hand use. However, it is not known if all neuronal response properties recover, and whether different cortical areas recover in a similar manner. To address this, we recorded neuronal activity in cortical area 3b and S2 in adult squirrel monkeys weeks after unilateral lesion of the dorsal columns. We found that in response to vibrotactile stimulation, local field potentials remained robust at all frequency ranges. However, neuronal spiking activity failed to follow at high frequencies (≥15Hz). We suggest that the failure to generate spiking activity at high stimulus frequency reflects a changed balance of inhibition and excitation in both area 3b and S2, and that this mismatch in spiking and local field potential is a signature of an early phase of recovering cortex (< two months).
somatosensory cortex; spinal cord injury; neuron spikes; local field potential; touch; primates