Single-axon tracing and three-dimensional reconstruction of centre median-parafascicular thalamic neurons in primates.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Comp Neurol, Volume 481, Issue 1, p.127-44 (2005)


Animals, Axons, Basal Ganglia, Brain Mapping, Female, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Intralaminar Thalamic Nuclei, Male, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Saimiri


<p>The axonal projections from the centre median (CM)/parafascicular (Pf) thalamic complex in squirrel monkeys were studied after microiontophoretic injections of biotinylated dextran amine under electrophysiological guidance. A total of 29 axons connected to their parent cell body were entirely reconstructed from serial sections with a camera lucida. Our investigation shows that the CM and Pf nuclei in primates comprise three types of projection neurons: (1) neurons that innervate densely and focally the striatum; (2) neurons that arborize diffusely in the cerebral cortex; and (3) neurons that innervate both striatum and cerebral cortex. Striatal innervation of CM origin consists of dense clusters of axon terminals exhibiting pedunculated varicosities and forming oblique bands in the dorsolateral sector of putamen (sensorimotor striatal territory). The same type of striatal innervation occurs in the head of caudate nucleus (associative striatal territory) in cases of Pf-labeled neurons. The CM neurons that target cerebral cortex arborize principally in motor and premotor areas, whereas Pf neurons innervate chiefly prefrontal areas. Cortical innervation from both nuclei is much more profuse in layers V and VI than in layer I. Our three-dimensional reconstruction studies show that dendritic and axonal arborizations of CM neurons extend essentially along the sagittal plane. These results revealed that, in contrast to rodents where virtually all Pf neurons project to both striatum and cortex, the primate CM/Pf complex harbors several types of highly patterned projection neurons. As such, this complex might be considered as an integral part of the widely distributed basal ganglia neuronal system.</p>

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