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J Neurophysiol. 1983 Oct;50(4):896-909.

Corticotectal and corticothalamic efferent projections of SIV somatosensory cortex in cat.


Substantial corticotectal (and corticothalamic) projections from the cortex of the anterior ectosylvian sulcus (AES) were demonstrated in the cat using the axonal transport methods of autoradiography and horseradish peroxidase. The corticotectal projection arises nearly exclusively from medium-large pyramidal cells in lamina V. One of the densest projecting areas of the AES is the rostral aspect of its superior bank, where a fourth somatotopic representation (SIV) has recently been demonstrated. It terminates in the intermediate and deep laminae of the superior colliculus, where somatic cells are located. The pathway is bilateral but much heavier ipsilaterally than contralaterally. In contrast to the substantial corticotectal projection from SIV and adjacent tissue, there was no unequivocal evidence for a corticotectal projection from traditional somatosensory cortex SI-SIII. This finding, that somatosensory projections to the cat superior colliculus arise from an area outside of SI-SIII, was unexpected on the basis of what is known about visual corticotectal projections. However, it is consistent with the patterns of other cortical projections that terminate in the intermediate and deep laminae of this structure and with the absence of demonstrable corticotectal influences from SI to SIII in this animal. These data are in contrast to demonstrations by other investigators that there is a corticotectal projection from SI cortex in rodents. Apparently there is a fundamental species difference in the organization of descending somatosensory pathways. A corticothalamic projection of the AES was also observed. This descending projection appeared to form a shell of labeled cells and fibers around the ventrobasal complex, but unequivocal terminal labeling within the ventrobasal complex could not be demonstrated. Dense terminal labeling was apparent in the posterior group of thalamic nuclei (PO) where thalamocortical afferents to the AES originate.

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