Architectonic subdivisions of the motor thalamus of owl monkeys: Nissl, acetylcholinesterase, and cytochrome oxidase patterns

J Comp Neurol. 1994 Nov 22;349(4):536-57. doi: 10.1002/cne.903490404.


As the first part of an investigation of the motor thalamus and its cortical connections in the owl monkey, a New World anthropoid primate, we studied thalamic architecture by using stains for Nissl, acetylcholinesterase (AChE), and cytochrome oxidase (CO), in order to identify subdivisions of the ventrolateral thalamic region as well as other nuclei with motor connections. Material was obtained from brains cut in the frontal, horizontal, and parasagittal planes. Our results indicate that the ventrolateral thalamic region (VL) of owl monkeys is a heterogeneous structure composed of several architectonic subdivisions that resemble divisions that have been described in macaques and other Old World anthropoids. All of these subdivisions are more readily distinguished in AChE than in Nissl or CO preparations. The anterior part of VL, VLa (VLo of Olszewski), is characterized by clusters of medium-sized, darkly stained neurons. VLa is also distinguished by AChE-positive cells embedded in a matrix of neurites as well as by a characteristic dark, irregular net of blood vessels. The posterior part of VL is rather uniform cytoarchitectonically and contains large, darkly stained, and sparsely distributed neurons. However, we were able to distinguish three subdivisions of posterior VL that closely correspond to structures described by Olszewski in macaques: a principal segment, VLp (VPLo of Olszewski), a medial segment, VLx ("area X" of Olszewski), and a dorsal segment, VLd (VLc and VLps of Olszewski). In AChE, VLd is much darker than the other divisions. The distinction between VLp and VLx, which together make up the largest part of VL, is less marked, although VLp is somewhat darker and more irregular in appearance in AChE than is VLx.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aotidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Aotidae / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Nissl Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamus / cytology
  • Thalamus / physiology*


  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Acetylcholinesterase