Tracing thalamo-cortical connections in tenrecA further attempt to characterize poorly differentiated neocortical regions, particularly the motor cortex

Brain Res. 2009 Feb 9;1253:35-47. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.11.052. Epub 2008 Nov 27.

Abstract

The hedgehog tenrec (Afrosoricidae) has a very poorly differentiated neocortex. Previously its primary sensory regions have been characterized with hodological and electrophysiological techniques. Unlike the marsupial opossum the tenrec may also have a separate motor area as far as there are cortico-spinal cells located rostral to the primary somatosensory cortex. However, not knowing its thalamic input it may be premature to correlate this area with the true (mirror-image-like) primary motor cortex in higher mammals. For this reason the tenrec's thalamo-cortical connections were studied following tracer injections into various neocortical regions. The main sensory areas were confirmed by their afferents from the principal thalamic nuclei. The dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus, in addition, was connected with the retrosplenial area and a rostromedial visual region. Unlike the somatosensory cortex the presumed motor area did not receive afferents from the ventrobasal thalamus but fibers from the cerebello-thalamic target regions. These projections, however, were not restricted to the motor area, but involved the entire somatosensorimotor field as well as adjacent regions. The projections appeared similar to those arising in the rat thalamic ventromedial nucleus known to have a supporting function rather than a specific motor task. The question was raised whether the input from the basal ganglia might play a crucial role in the evolution of the mammalian motor cortex? Certainly, in the tenrec, the poor differentiation of the motor cortex coincides with the virtual absence of an entopeduncular projection to the ventrolateral thalamus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Dextrans
  • Eulipotyphla / anatomy & histology*
  • Microinjections
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Photomicrography
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate

Substances

  • Dextrans
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate
  • biotinylated dextran amine
  • Biotin