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J Comp Neurol. 1992 Dec 15;326(3):423-41.

Thalamic connections of the vestibular cortical fields in the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus).

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Department of Physiology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.


The afferent thalamic connections to cortical fields important for control of head movement in space were analysed by intracortical retrograde tracer injections. The proprioceptive/vestibular area 3aV, the neck-trunk region of area 3a, receives two thirds of its thalamic projections from the oral and superior ventroposterior nucleus (VPO/VPS), which is considered as the proprioceptive relay of the ventroposterior complex (Kaas et al., J. Comp. Neurol. 226:211-240, 1984). The parieto-insular vestibular cortex (PIVC, area retroinsularis, Ri) receives its main thalamic input from posterior parts of the ventroposterior complex and from the medial pulvinar. Anatomical evidence is presented that the posterior region of the ventroposterior complex is a special compartment within this principal somatosensory relay complex. The parietotemporal association area T3, mainly involved in visual-optokinetic signal processing, receives a substantial input from the medial, the lateral, and the inferior pulvinar. Dual tracer experiments revealed that about 5% of the thalamic neurons projecting to 3aV were spatially intermingled with neurons projecting to areas PIVC or T3. This spatial intermingling was distributed over small but numerous, circumscribed thalamic regions, called "common patches," which were found mainly in the intralaminar nuclei, the posterior group of thalamic nuclei, and the caudal parts of the ventroposterior complex. The "common patches" may indicate a functional coupling of area 3aV with the PIVC or area T3 on the thalamic level. In control experiments thalamic projections to the granular insula Ig and the anterior part of area 7, two cerebral structures connected with the vestibular cortical areas, were studied. Some overlap in the thalamic relay structures projecting to these areas with those projecting to the vestibular cortices was found. A quantitative evaluation of thalamic regions projecting to different cortical structures was performed by constructing so-called "thalamograms." A scheme was developed that describes the afferent thalamic connections by which vestibular, visual-optokinetic, and proprioceptive signals reach the vestibular cortical areas PIVC and 3aV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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