Organization of the projections from the pericruciate cortex to the pontomedullary brainstem of the cat: a study using the anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin

J Comp Neurol. 1997 Dec 29;389(4):617-41. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(19971229)389:4<617::aid-cne6>;2-3.


The anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) was used to study the distribution and density of the projections that originate from four identified subdivisions of the pericruciate cortex (namely, the forelimb and hind limb representations of area 4, area 6a beta, and area 6a gamma) and that terminate in the pontomedullary brainstem in the cat. Injections of PHA-L in all areas of the pericruciate cortex labelled numerous fibers and their terminal swellings in the brainstem. The major target regions of all four cortical areas were the pontine nuclei and the pontomedullary reticular formation (PMRF). Injections into both the forelimb and hind limb representations of area 4 and into area 6a beta resulted in a dense pattern of terminal labelling in restricted regions of the medial and lateral parts of the ipsilateral pontine nuclei. The labelling following the area 6a beta injection was spatially distinct from that seen following the area 4 injections. Injections into the forelimb representation of area 4 as well as into area 6a beta and 6a gamma resulted in the labelling of numerous terminal swellings bilaterally in the PMRF; in contrast, there were few labelled terminal swellings in the PMRF following injections into the hind limb representation of area 4. Terminal swellings on individual corticoreticular fibers were far less densely aggregated than those in the pontine nuclei. The dense pattern of innervation to restricted regions of the pontine nuclei supports previous suggestions that the corticopontine projections retain a high degree of topographical specificity that could be used in the control of discrete voluntary movements. In contrast, the more diffuse pattern of the projections to the PMRF may facilitate the selection and activation of the complex postural patterns that accompany voluntary movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Cats / anatomy & histology*
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hindlimb / innervation
  • Medulla Oblongata / anatomy & histology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Pons / anatomy & histology
  • Pons / physiology


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants