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J Neurophysiol. 1980 Jan;43(1):69-85.

A transthalamic olfactory pathway to orbitofrontal cortex in the monkey.


1. Evoked potentials restricted to the magnocellular portion of the mediodorsal nucleus (MDmc) of the thalamus were recorded after stimulation of the olfactory bulb (OB) and the posterior orbital cortex of the frontal lobe (OFC). Potentials evoked by stimulation of OB were probably trans-synaptically elicited, while potentials evoked by stimulation of OFC were probably a result of antidromic activation. 2. The area in which stimulation could elicit antidromic evoked potentials in MDmc was located in the centroposterior portion of OFC (CPOF). This area corresponds approximately to Walker's (80) area 13 and to von Bonin and Bailey's (9) area FF, and is situated medial and just anterior to a previously identified olfactory area, the lateroposterior portion of OFC (LPOF), which receives olfactory impulses through the hypothalamus. 3. Using extracellular microelectrodes, 58 neurons that responded with short latencies to OFC stimulation were identified in MDmc. To determine whether these neurons were activated antidromically by CPOF stimulation, three conventional neurophysiological criteria were applied; 20 of 58 neurons satisfied all the three criteria. Hence, they were concluded to be thalamocortical relay (TCR) neurons. 4. Intracellular recording of MDmc neurons disclosed that CPOF stimulation elicits an antidromic spike potential accompanied by an afterhyperpolarization. This hyperpolarization was presumed to be due to concurrent stimulation of inhibitory orbitothalamic fibers. It was also shown that EPSP-like depolarizations with superimposed spike potentials often occurred in the middle of the afterhyperpolarization. 5. Intracellular recording of MDmc neurons strongly suggested that the remaining 38 neurons that did not satisfy one of the three criteria were also TCR neurons. 6. These studies provide electrophysiological evidence for a transthalamic olfactory pathway from OB through MDmc to CPOF. 7. Using an extracellular recording technique, responses of neurons to eight odors were examined in CPOF and MDmc of unanesthetized awake monkeys. When these results were compared with the responses of neurons to the same odors in OB, prepyriform-amygdaloid area, and LPOF, it was concluded that the newly found transthalamic olfactory pathway to CPOF is very different in function from the previously demonstrated transhypothalamic olfactory pathway to LPOF.

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