Topographic organization of medial pulvinar connections with the prefrontal cortex in the rhesus monkey

J Comp Neurol. 1997 Mar 17;379(3):313-32.


The medial nucleus of the pulvinar complex (PM) has widespread connections with association cortex. We investigated the connections of the PM with the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in macaque monkeys, with tracers placed into the PM and the PFC, respectively. Injections of wheat germ agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) placed into the PM resulted in widespread anterograde terminal labeling in layers III and IV, and retrograde cellular labeling in layer VI of the PFC. Injections of tracers centered on the central/lateral PM resulted in labeling of dorsolateral and orbital regions, whereas injections centered on caudal, medial PM resulted in labeling of dorsomedial and medial PFC. Since injections of the PM included neighboring thalamic nuclei, retrograde tracers were placed into distinct cytoarchitectonic regions of the PFC and retrogradely labeled cells in the posterior thalamus were charted. The results of this series of tracer injections confirmed the results of thalamic injections. Injections placed into areas 8a, 12 (lateral and orbital), 45, 46 and 11, retrogradely labeled neurons in the central/lateral PM, while tracer injections placed into areas 9, 12 (lateral), 10 and 24, labeled medial PM. The connections of the PM with temporal, parietal, insular, and cingulate cortices were also examined. The central/lateral PM has reciprocal connections with posterior parietal areas 7a, 7ip, and 7b, insular cortex, caudal superior temporal sulcus (STS), caudal superior temporal gyrus (STG), and posterior cingulate, whereas medial PM is connected mainly with the anterior STS and STG, as well as the cingulate cortex and the amygdala. These connectional studies suggest that the central/ lateral and medial PM have divergent connections which may be the substrate for distinct functional circuits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamus / physiology