Organization of corticostriatal projections from the vibrissal representations in the primary motor and somatosensory cortical areas of rodents

J Comp Neurol. 2001 Oct 8;439(1):87-103. doi: 10.1002/cne.1337.


To characterize corticostriatal projections from rodent sensorimotor cortex, the anterograde tracers biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) and fluororuby (FR) were injected into the whisker representations of the primary motor (MI) and somatosensory (SI) cortices. Reconstructions of labeled terminals and their beaded varicosities in the neostriatum and thalamus were analyzed quantitatively to determine the degree of labeled overlap in both of these subcortical structures. Corticostriatal projections from the vibrissal representation in MI were more extensive than corresponding projections from SI. Both cortical areas sent dense projections to the dorsolateral neostriatum, but the MI vibrissal representation also projected to regions located more rostrally and medially. Despite these differences, both MI and SI projected to overlapping parts of the dorsolateral neostriatum. Tracer injections in both cortical areas also produced dense anterograde and retrograde labeling in the medial sector of the posterior complex of the thalamus (POm). Because POm is somatotopically organized and has reciprocal connections with both SI and MI cortices, the amount of labeled overlap in POm was used to indicate whether the tracers were injected into corresponding whisker representations of MI and SI. We found that the proportion of labeled overlap in the neostriatum was highly correlated with the amount of labeled overlap in POm. These results indicate that the rodent neostriatum receives convergent projections from corresponding regions in MI and SI cortex. Furthermore, the thalamocortical projections of the POm indicate that it may modulate corticostriatal outputs from corresponding representations in MI and SI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neostriatum / physiology*
  • Rats / physiology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Vibrissae / physiology*