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J Neurosci. 1997 Jan 1;17(1):438-58.

Anatomic organization of the basilar pontine projections from prefrontal cortices in rhesus monkey.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


In our ongoing attempt to determine the anatomic substrates that could support a cerebellar contribution to cognitive processing, we investigated the prefrontal cortical projections to the basilar pons. A detailed understanding of these pathways is needed, because the prefrontal cortex is critical for a number of complex cognitive operations, and the corticopontine projection is the obligatory first step in the corticopontocerebellar circuit. Prefrontopontine connections were studied using the autoradiographic technique in rhesus monkey. The pontine projections were most prominent and occupied the greatest rostrocaudal extent of the pons when derived from the dorsolateral prefrontal convexity, including areas 8Ad, 9/46d, and 10. Lesser pontine projections were observed from the medial prefrontal convexity and area 45B in the inferior limb of the arcuate sulcus. In contrast, ventral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices did not demonstrate pontine projections. The prefrontopontine terminations were located preferentially in the paramedian nucleus and in the medial parts of the peripeduncular nucleus, but each cortical area appeared to have a unique complement of pontine nuclei with which it is connected. The existence of these corticopontine pathways from prefrontal areas concerned with multiple domains of higher-order processing is consistent with the hypothesis that the cerebellum is an essential node in the distributed corticosubcortical neural circuits subserving cognitive operations.

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