Prefrontal cortical projections to longitudinal columns in the midbrain periaqueductal gray in macaque monkeys

X. An, R. Bandler, D. Öngür, J. L. Price

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The origin and termination of prefrontal cortical projections to the periaqueductal gray (PAG) were defined with retrograde axonal tracers injected into the PAG and anterograde axonal tracers injected into the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The retrograde tracer experiments demonstrate projections to the PAG that arise primarily from the medial prefrontal areas 25, 32, and 10m, anterior cingulate, and dorsomedial areas 24b and 9, select orbital areas 14c, 13a, Iai, 12o, and caudal 121, and ventrolateral area 6v. Only scattered cells were retrogradely labeled in other areas in the PFC. Caudal to the PFC, projections to the PAG also arise from the posterior cingulate cortex, the dorsal dysgranular, and granular parts of the temporal polar cortex, the ventral insula, and the dorsal bank of the superior temporal sulcus. Cells were also labeled in subcortical structures, including the central nucleus and ventrolateral part of the basal nucleus of the amygdala. The anterograde tracer experiments indicate that projections from distinct cortical areas terminate primarily in individual longitudinal PAG columns. The projections from medial prefrontal areas 10m, 25, and 32 end predominantly in the dorsolateral columns, bilaterally. Fibers from orbital areas 13a, Iai, 12o, and caudal 121 terminate primarily in the ventrolateral column, whereas fibers from dorsomedial areas 9 and 24b terminate mainly in the lateral column. The PFC areas that project to the PAG include most of the areas previously defined as the 'medial prefrontal network.' The areas that comprise this network represent a visceromotor system, distinct from the sensory related 'orbital network'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-479
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 30 1998


  • Amygdala
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Emotion
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Visceral control


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