Organization of the afferent connections of the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus in the rat, related to the mediodorsal-prefrontal topography

Neuroscience. 1988 Feb;24(2):379-431. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(88)90339-9.


The aim of the present study was to determine the organization of the afferents of the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus in relation to the reciprocal connections of this nucleus with different areas of the prefrontal cortex. For this purpose injections of horseradish peroxidase, or horseradish peroxidase conjugated to wheatgerm agglutinin were placed in different parts of the mediodorsal nucleus. These experiments revealed the organization of the reciprocal mediodorsal-prefrontal connections since wheatgerm agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase is transported effectively in anterograde and retrograde directions. Injections of wheatgerm agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase or fluorescent tracers were placed in different portions of the prefrontal cortex, and the lectin Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin was injected in the mediodorsal nucleus in order to verify in more detail the point-to-point relationship in the mediodorsal-prefrontal connections. The organization of a number of the subcortical afferents to the mediodorsal nucleus was determined in detail using injections of Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin, wheatgerm agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase, or tritiated amino acids in areas identified as a source of mediodorsal afferents in the retrograde tracing experiments. These anterograde tracers were injected in different parts of the pallidal complex, the amygdala, the lateral hypothalamus, the lateral entorhinal cortex, the ventral mesencephalon, the superior colliculus and the dorsal tegmental region. The results of the present experiments indicate that the mediodorsal nucleus, on the basis of its cyto-, myelo- and chemoarchitecture as well as the organization of its reciprocal connections with the prefrontal cortex, can be subdivided into a medial, a central, a lateral and a paralamellar segment. Apart from this subdivision along a mediolateral axis, rostrocaudal and dorsoventral differences are also evident in the structural organization and connectivity of the mediodorsal nucleus. A number of subcortical structures send fibres to all parts of the mediodorsal nucleus. The reticular thalamic nucleus projects to the mediodorsal nucleus in a topographical way such that its rostral part is connected with the rostral part of the nucleus, whereas more caudal and ventral areas in the reticular thalamic nucleus are connected with more caudal parts of the mediodorsal nucleus. Regions in the brainstem that project to all parts of the mediodorsal nucleus include the mesencephalic raphé nuclei, the locus coeruleus, the rostral part of the central gray substance and the reticular formation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain Mapping
  • Corpus Striatum / anatomy & histology
  • Corpus Striatum / cytology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology*
  • Frontal Lobe / cytology
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Leucine
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / anatomy & histology
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / cytology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / cytology
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Leucine