Rat posterior parietal cortex: topography of corticocortical and thalamic connections

Exp Brain Res. 1994;100(1):67-84. doi: 10.1007/BF00227280.


Anatomical and functional findings support the contention that there is a distinct posterior parietal cortical area (PPC) in the rat, situated between the rostrally adjacent hindlimb sensorimotor area and the caudally adjacent secondary visual areas. The PPC is distinguished from these areas by receiving thalamic afferents from the lateral dorsal (LD), lateral posterior (LP), and posterior (Po) nuclei, in the absence of input from the ventrobasal complex (VB) or dorsal lateral geniculate (DLG) nuclei. Behavioral studies have demonstrated that PPC is involved in spatial orientation and directed attention. In the present study we used fluorescent retrograde axonal tracers primarily to investigate the cortical connections of PPC, in order to determine the organization of the circuitry by which PPC is likely to participate in these functions, and also to determine how the topography of its thalamic connections differs from that of neighboring cortical areas. The cortical connections of PPC involve the ventrolateral (VLO) and medial (MO) orbital areas, medial agranular cortex (area Fr2), portions of somatic sensory areas Par1 and Par2, secondary visual areas Oc2M and Oc2L, auditory area Te1, and retrosplenial cortex. The secondary visual areas Oc2L and Oc2M have cortical connections which are similar to those of PPC, but are restricted within orbital cortex to area VLO, and within area Fr2 to its caudal portion, and do not involve auditory area Te1. The cortical connections of hindlimb cortex are largely restricted to somatic sensory and motor areas. Retrosplenial cortex, which is medially adjacent to PPC, has cortical connections that are prominent with visual cortex, do not involve somatic sensory or auditory cortex, and include the presubiculum. We conclude that PPC is distinguished by its pattern of cortical connections with the somatic sensory, auditory and visual areas, and with areas Fr2, and VLO/MO, in addition to its exclusive thalamic connectivity with LD, LP and Po. Because recent behavioral studies indicate that PPC, Fr2 and VLO are involved in directed attention and spatial learning, we suggest that the interconnections among these three cortical areas represent a major component of the circuitry for these functions in rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hindlimb / innervation
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology*
  • Rats
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Stilbamidines*
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology


  • 2-hydroxy-4,4'-diamidinostilbene, methanesulfonate salt
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Stilbamidines