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J Comp Neurol. 1987 Mar 8;257(2):269-81.

Crossed corticothalamic and thalamocortical connections of macaque prefrontal cortex.


We have conducted a systematic comparison of the ipsilateral (uncrossed) and contralateral (crossed) thalamic connections of prefrontal cortex in macaque monkeys, using cortical implants of horseradish peroxidase pellets and tetramethyl benzidine histochemistry to demonstrate anterograde and retrograde thalamic labeling. Contrary to the prevailing belief that thalamocortical projections are entirely uncrossed, our findings indicate that a modest crossed projection to prefrontal cortex arises from the mesial thalamus, principally the anteromedial and midline nuclei. Also, while confirming that corticothalamic projections are bilateral, we found that the pattern of crossed projections differs from that of uncrossed projections. Projections to mesial thalamic nuclei, specifically to the anteromedial nucleus, the midline nuclei, and the magnocellular part of the mediodorsal nucleus are bilateral, the contralateral projection being nearly as dense as the ipsilateral projection. Projections to the parvicellular part of the mediodorsal and ventral anterior nuclei are also bilateral, but the contralateral projection is much weaker than the ipsilateral projection. Prefrontal projections to the reticular nucleus, medial pulvinar, suprageniculate nucleus, and limitans nucleus appear to be exclusively ipsilateral. These results indicate that prefrontal cortex has prominent bilateral and reciprocal connections with the nuclei of the mesial thalamic region. As this region of the diencephalon has been implicated by anatomical and behavioral studies in memory functions, our findings suggest that prefrontal cortex, through its connections with this region, may be involved in the bilateral integration of mnemonic systems.

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