Differential projections from the mediodorsal and centrolateral thalamic nuclei to the frontal cortex in rats

Brain Res. 2004 Jan 9;995(2):226-35. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2003.10.006.


The aim of the present study was to investigate afferent projections from the medial thalamic nuclei (MT) to the frontal cortical areas using a single small iontophoretic injection of biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) and analysis of the anterogradely labeled fibers and varicosities. Projections from the mediodorsal (MD) nuclei were found primarily and extensively in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), whereas those from the centrolateral (CL) thalamic nucleus were found in the frontal motor cortex. The density of terminals in the ACC was high in layers II and III and sparse in layer I. The majority of projected fibers from the CL were found at a high density in layer V, with a moderate density in the superficial layers. The differential projection patterns were topographically organized in the medial prefrontal cortex and sensory motor cortex. These findings support the results of our previous electrophysiological studies suggesting that neurons in the medial thalamic nuclei relay nociceptive information to the limbic or sensory motor cortical areas. The present results agree with the current notion that the medial thalamo-frontal cortical network circuitry plays an important role in processing the emotional aspect of nociception.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Animals
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Biotin / pharmacology
  • Dextrans / pharmacology
  • Fluorescent Dyes / pharmacology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lateral Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Mediodorsal Thalamic Nucleus / anatomy & histology*
  • Midline Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*
  • Rats


  • Dextrans
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • biotinylated dextran amine
  • Biotin