Efferent connections of the centromedian and parafascicular thalamic nuclei in the squirrel monkey: a PHA-L study of subcortical projections

J Comp Neurol. 1992 Jan 8;315(2):137-59. doi: 10.1002/cne.903150203.


The subcortical projections of the centromedian (CM) and the parafascicular (Pf) thalamic nuclei were examined in the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) by using the lectin Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) as an anterograde tracer. Both CM and Pf project massively to the striatum where they arborize in a complementary fashion. On the one hand, CM innervates most of the putamen caudal to the anterior commissure, a dorsolateral rim of the putamen rostral to the anterior commissure, discrete areas of the head of the caudate nucleus close to the internal capsule, and a lateral sector of the body of the caudate nucleus. On the other hand, Pf provides a heavy input to the head, body, and tail of the caudate nucleus, and to the rostral putamen, excluding the areas innervated by CM. In addition, Pf projects more discretely to the nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle. Therefore, the projections from both CM and Pf cover the entire striatum, with those from CM arborizing into the "sensorimotor" striatal territory and the ones from Pf innervating the "associative-limbic" striatal territory. Furthermore, CM and Pf project to extrastriatal subcortical structures, such as the globus pallidus, the subthalamic nucleus, and the substantia nigra, where they also terminate in a complementary fashion. Topographically and cytologically, Pf is closely related to the subparafascicular nucleus (sPf). The Pf-sPf complex projects to the hypothalamus, the substantia innominata, the peripeduncular nucleus, and the amygdala. It also gives rise to descending efferents arborizing in various brainstem structures, including the inferior olivary complex. Additional studies with retrograde double-labeling methods show that distinct cell groups within CM project to the motor cortex and the striatum. Likewise, separate neuronal populations within the CM-Pf-sPf complex give rise to striatal and brainstem projections, the former arising from CM and Pf and the latter mainly from sPf. The complementary nature of CM and Pf projections to the striatum and other basal ganglia components suggests that this thalamic complex participates in a highly ordered manner in the parallel processing of the information that flows through the basal ganglia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology*
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Efferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Saimiri / anatomy & histology*
  • Substantia Nigra / anatomy & histology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants