The organization of the forelimb representation of the C57BL/6 mouse motor cortex as defined by intracortical microstimulation and cytoarchitecture

Cereb Cortex. 2011 Apr;21(4):865-76. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhq159. Epub 2010 Aug 25.


The organization of forelimb representation areas of the monkey, cat, and rat motor cortices has been studied in depth, but its characterization in the mouse lags far behind. We used intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) and cytoarchitectonics to characterize the general organization of the C57BL/6 mouse motor cortex, and the forelimb representation in more detail. We found that the forelimb region spans a large area of frontal cortex, bordered primarily by vibrissa, neck, shoulder, and hindlimb representations. It included a large caudal forelimb area, dominated by digit representation, and a small rostral forelimb area, containing elbow and wrist representations. When the entire motor cortex was mapped, the forelimb was found to be the largest movement representation, followed by head and hindlimb representations. The ICMS-defined motor cortex spanned cytoarchitecturally identified lateral agranular cortex (AGl) and also extended into medial agranular cortex. Forelimb and hindlimb representations extended into granular cortex in a region that also had cytoarchitectural characteristics of AGl, consistent with the primary motor-somatosensory overlap zone (OL) characterized in rats. Thus, the mouse motor cortex has homologies with the rat in having 2 forelimb representations and an OL but is distinct in the predominance of digit representations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Forelimb / innervation*
  • Male
  • Mice / anatomy & histology*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology*