Comparative three-dimensional connectome map of motor cortical projections in the mouse brain

Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 2:6:20072. doi: 10.1038/srep20072.


The motor cortex orchestrates simple to complex motor behaviors through its output projections to target areas. The primary (MOp) and secondary (MOs) motor cortices are known to produce specific output projections that are targeted to both similar and different target areas. These projections are further divided into layer 5 and 6 neuronal outputs, thereby producing four cortical outputs that may target other areas in a combinatorial manner. However, the precise network structure that integrates these four projections remains poorly understood. Here, we constructed a whole-brain, three-dimensional (3D) map showing the tract pathways and targeting locations of these four motor cortical outputs in mice. Remarkably, these motor cortical projections showed unique and separate tract pathways despite targeting similar areas. Within target areas, various combinations of these four projections were defined based on specific 3D spatial patterns, reflecting anterior-posterior, dorsal-ventral, and core-capsular relationships. This 3D topographic map ultimately provides evidence for the relevance of comparative connectomics: motor cortical projections known to be convergent are actually segregated in many target areas with unique targeting patterns, a finding that has anatomical value for revealing functional subdomains that have not been classified by conventional methods.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Connectome*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*