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Hear Res. 1986;23(3):205-22.

Columnar organization and reciprocity of commissural connections in cat primary auditory cortex (AI).


The laminar distribution and reciprocity of commissural axon terminals and cells of origin in cat primary auditory cortex (AI) were studied after injections of tritiated proline combined with horseradish peroxidase in the middle ectosylvian gyrus. Terminal fields were found in every cortical layer in the contralateral AI, and they were characterized quantitatively. The largest concentration of silver grains was in layer III (about 25% of the total number of silver grains) and, to a lesser extent, in layers V, VI, and I (some 18% of the total in each layer). The labeling in layer I was concentrated in its deeper half, while the labeling in the other layers was more homogeneous. Layer IV had the least labeling, followed by layer II, each receiving about 10% of the total. The labeling was always heaviest over the neuropil and lightest over neuronal perikarya. Commissural terminal fields formed radial patches oriented perpendicularly to the pia, and averaging 543 micron in width. There was consistently three times more silver grains in a patch than in an inter-patch area. However, the number of silver grains in an inter-patch area was always significantly above background, indicating a possible commissural projection to these zones as well. The patches of commissural terminal fields formed bands oriented across AI and running in a caudoventral to rostrodorsal direction. Strict reciprocity between the commissural cells of origin and terminal fields was not found at the light microscopic level when adjacent sections, corrected for differential shrinkage, were compared. Often, patches of terminal fields were free of retrogradely labeled cells and, conversely, there were patches of labeled cells without an overlying commissural terminal field. The terminal fields connected homotopic regions of the contralateral AI, and every region of AI received commissural innervation, unlike the primary somatic sensory and visual cortex, where large zones receive only a few commissural afferents. The more complete pattern of interhemispheric connectivity in auditory cortex is in contrast to the less continuous commissural representation in other sensory neocortical fields. Perhaps this pattern contributes to the anatomical representation of binaurality in auditory cortex.

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