The posterior thalamic region and its cortical projection in new world and old world monkeys

H. Burton, E. G. Jones

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The posterior nuclear complex of the thalamus in rhesus, pigtailed and squirrel monkeys consists of the combined suprageniculate‐limitans nucleus and an ill defined region of heterogeneous cell types extending anteriorly from the dorsal lobe of the medial geniculate body towards the posterior pole of the ventral nuclear complex. This region is referred to as the posterior nucleus. The cortical projections of each of these nuclei, together with those of the adjacent ventral, pulvinar and medial geniculate complexes, have been studied by means of the autoradiographic tracing technique. The suprageniculate‐limitans nucleus, the main input to which is the superior colliculus, projects upon the granular insular area of the cortex. The medial portion of the posterior nucleus projects to the retroinsular field lying posterior to the second somatic sensory area. There is clinical and electrophysiological evidence to suggest that the retroinsular area may form part of a central pain pathway. The lateral portion of the posterior nucleus which is closely related to certain elements of the medial geniculate complex, projects to the postaditory cortical field. The ventroposterioinferior nucleus, which may be involved in vestibular function, projects to the dysgranular insular field. The principal medial geniculate nucleus can be subdivided into a ventral division that projects to field AI of the auditory cortex and a dorsal division that merges with the posterior nucleus; it is further subdivided into an anterodorsal component that projects to two fields on the superior temporal gyrus, together with a posterodorsal component in which separate cell populations project to areas lying anterior and medial to AI. The magnocellular medial geniculate nucleus, sometimes considered a part of the posterior complex, appears to project diffusely to layer I of all the auditory fields. The Auditory fields are bounded on three sides by the projection field of the medial nucleus of the pulvinar which also extends into the upper end of the lateral sulcus to bound the fields receiving fibers from the posterior nucleus. The topography of the areas receiving fibers from the posterior, medial geniculate and pulvinar complexes, taken in conjunction with the rotation of the primate temporal lobe, permits all of these fields to be compared with similar, better known areas in the cat brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-301
Number of pages53
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 1976


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