Transcallosal connections of the distal forelimb representations of the primary and supplementary motor cortical areas in macaque monkeys

Exp Brain Res. 1994;102(2):227-43. doi: 10.1007/BF00227511.


The goal of the present neuroanatomical study in macaque monkeys was twofold: (1) to clarify whether the hand representation of the primary motor cortex (M1) has a transcallosal projection to M1 of the opposite hemisphere; (2) to compare the topography and density of transcallosal connections for the hand representations of M1 and the supplementary motor area (SMA). The hand areas of M1 and the SMA were identified by intracortical microstimulation and then injected either with retrograde tracer substances in order to label the neurons of origin in the contralateral motor cortical areas (four monkeys) or, with an anterograde tracer, to establish the regional distribution and density of terminal fields in the opposite motor cortical areas (two monkeys). The main results were: (1) The hand representation of M1 exhibited a modest homotopic callosal projection, as judged by the small number of labeled neurons within the region corresponding to the contralateral injection. A modest heterotopic callosal projection originated from the opposite supplementary, premotor, and cingulate motor areas. (2) In contrast, the SMA hand representation showed a dense callosal projection to the opposite SMA. The SMA was found to receive also dense heterotopic callosal projections from the contralateral rostral and caudal cingulate motor areas, moderate projections from the lateral premotor cortex, and sparse projections from M1. (3) After injection of an anterograde tracer (biotinylated dextran amine) in the hand representation of M1, only a few small patches of axonal label were found in the corresponding region of M1, as well as in the lateral premotor cortex; virtually no label was found in the SMA or in cingulate motor areas. Injections of the same anterograde tracer in the hand representation of the SMA, however, resulted in dense and widely distributed axonal terminal fields in the opposite SMA, premotor cortex, and cingulate motor areas, while labeled terminals were clearly less dense in M1. It is concluded that the hand representations of the SMA and M1 strongly differ with respect to the strength and distribution of callosal connectivity with the former having more powerful and widespread callosal connections with a number of motor fields of the opposite cortex than the latter. These anatomical results support the proposition of the SMA being a bilaterally organized system, possibly contributing to bimanual coordination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Corpus Callosum / cytology
  • Corpus Callosum / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology