Bilateral receptive field neurons in the hindlimb region of the postcentral somatosensory cortex in awake macaque monkeys

Exp Brain Res. 2000 Sep;134(2):139-46. doi: 10.1007/s002210000464.


Single-neuron activities were recorded in the hindlimb region of the primary somatosensory cortex and part of area 5 in awake Japanese monkeys. A total of 1050 units were isolated from five hemispheres of four animals. Receptive fields (RFs) and submodalities were identified for 90% of isolated neurons in areas 3a and 3b. The percentage decreased as the recoding site moved to the more caudal areas. Deep or skin submodality neurons were dominant in area 3a or area 3b, respectively. Deep submodality neurons increased in more caudal areas and were the majority in areas 2 and 5. These observations were consistent with those in the hand and/or digit or arm and/or trunk region. The identified neurons were classified by their RF positions into four types: the foot, leg, foot and leg, or hindlimb and other body parts type. Among 831 identified neurons, 33 neurons had bilateral RFs, 14 had ipsilateral RFs, and the rest (N=784) had contralateral RFs. The relative incidence of neurons with bilateral or ipsilateral RFs among identified neurons was less than 1% in areas 3a, 3b, and 1, and 16% or 25% in areas 2 or 5, respectively. Within areas 2 and 5, the percentage of neurons with bilateral or ipsilateral RFs was significantly smaller in the foot type (5%) than in other RF types (24-57%). RFs of the foot type were on the sole or single toe but never on multiple toes. These observations contrasted with the previous findings that neurons with bilateral RFs were more frequently seen in the hand and/or digit region and that RFs on multiple digit tips were dominant there. The present study thus demonstrated that neurons with bilateral RFs do exist in the hindlimb region. Similarly to the forelimb region, they were found mostly in areas 2 and 5, the caudalmost areas of the postcentral gyrus and hierarchically higher stages in information processing. The relative paucity of neurons with bilateral RFs on the foot, especially those with RFs on multiple toes, may reflect functional differences between the foot and the hand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Afferent Pathways / cytology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hindlimb / innervation*
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Joints / innervation
  • Macaca
  • Mechanoreceptors / cytology
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Skin / innervation
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology