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Brain Res. 1993 Dec 24;631(2):241-6.

Spinothalamocortical projections to the secondary somatosensory cortex (SII) in squirrel monkey.

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Department of neurosurgery, SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse 13210.


Anterograde labeling of the cervical spinothalamic tract was combined with retrograde labeling of thalamocortical cells projecting to the hand region of the second somatosensory cortex (hSII) to identify likely sites in the thalamus for processing and transmitting nociceptive information to hSII. Anterograde labeling of terminals was done with 2% WGA-HRP injections in the cervical enlargement; thalamocortical cells were retrogradely labeled with fluorescent tracers. In one experiment, the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex hand region (hSI) was injected to provide a direct comparison with hSII thalamic label. Both labeled cells and terminal-like structures were visualized in single thalamic sections and their numbers and positions quantitatively analyzed. The number of labeled cells within 100 microns from the STT terminals were counted as overlapping cells. Four thalamic nuclei, ventroposterior inferior (VPI), ventroposterior lateral (VPL), posterior nucleus (PO) and centrolateral nucleus (CL) combined to contain 86.5% of all hSII-projecting overlapping cells. Of all hSII-projecting thalamic overlapping cells, VPI contained the largest number (36.4% of the total) followed by the anterior portion of the posterior nuclear complex (POa; 20.4%), VPL (18.3%) and CL (11.4%). Results of the hSI injection show a different pattern of overlap in agreement with our earlier study. The relative distribution of overlapping cells was dependent on the antero-posterior position of the SII injections. The most anterior injections resulted in small numbers of labeled cells, with the majority of overlapping cells located in PO and CL. The more posterior injections resulted in overlapping cells mainly in VPI and VPL.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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