Differential spinal projections from the forelimb areas of the rostral and caudal subregions of primary motor cortex in the cat

Exp Brain Res. 1996 Mar;108(2):191-205. doi: 10.1007/BF00228094.


We used anterograde transport of WGA-HRP to examine the topography of corticospinal projections from the forelimb areas within the rostral and caudal motor cortex subregions in the cat. We compared the pattern of these projections with those from the somatic sensory cortex. The principal finding of this study was that the laminar distribution of projections to the contralateral gray matter from the two motor cortex subregions was different. The rostral motor cortex projected preferentially to laminae VI-VIII, whereas caudal motor cortex projected primarily to laminae IV-VI. Confirming earlier findings, somatic sensory cortex projected predominantly to laminae I-VI inclusive. We found that only rostral motor cortex projected to territories in the rostral cervical cord containing propriospinal neurons of cervical spinal segments C3-4 and, in the cervical enlargement, to portions presumed to contain Ia inhibitory interneurons. We generated contour maps of labeling probability on averaged segmental distributions of anterograde labeling for all analyzed sections using the same algorithm. For rostral motor cortex, heaviest label in the dorsal part of lamina VII in the contralateral cord was consistently located in separate medial and lateral zones. In contrast, no consistent differences in the mediolateral location of label was noted for caudal motor cortex. To summarize, laminae I-III received input only from the somatic sensory cortex, while laminae IV-V received input from both somatic sensory and caudal motor cortex. Lamina VI received input from all cortical fields examined. Laminae VII-IX received input selectively from the rostral motor cortex. For motor cortex, our findings suggest that projections from the two subregions comprise separate descending pathways that could play distinct functional roles in movement control and sensorimotor integration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cats
  • Forelimb / innervation*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate


  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate