This study analyzed the topographic organization of the associational fibers within the olfactory cortex of the rat, by using the autoradiographic method. Small injections of 3H‐leucine were placd in all of the subdivisions of the olfactory cortex, to label selectively the fibers arising in each area. Intracortical fibers were identified from all of the olfactory cortical areas except the olfactory tubercle and were classified into two major systems (the layer Ib system and the layer II‐deep Ib system) on the basis of their laminar pattern of termination (see Luskin and Price, 1983). The layer Ib fiber system arises in the anterior olfactory nucleus, piri‐form cortex, and lateral entorhinal area, and is broadly organized in relation to the lateral olfactory tract. Cortical areas deep to or near the lateral olfactory tract are preferentially interconnected with areas near the tract, while parts of the cortex lateral and caudal to the lateral olfactory tract are most heavily interconnected with areas lateral, caudal, and medial to the tract. Commissural projections from the anterior olfactory nucleus and the anterior piriform cortex match some (but not all) components of the ipsilateral layer Ib fiber system. The layer II‐deep Ib fiber system arises in three small areas‐the ventral tenia tecta, the dorsal peduncular cortex, and the periamygdaloid cortex. The fibers from the ventral tenia tecta terminate in layer II of the anterior olfactorynucleus and are topographically organized. The fibers from the dorsal peduncular cortex and the periamygdaloid cortex are more widely distributed, especially in the lateral and caudal parts of the cortex. Two other intracortical projections do not fit into either of these fiber systems. The nucleus of the lateral olfactory tract projects bilaterally to the islands of Calleja and the medial edge of the anterior piriform cortex. The anterior cortical nucleus projects to many parts of the olfactory cortex, but the fibers end in both superficial and deep parts of layer I (layer la and Ib). There are projections from several of the olfactory cortical areas to the cortical areas surrounding the olfactory cortex. Virtually all of the olfactory areas also project to the ventral and dorsal endopiriform nuclei deep to the piriform cortex and/or to the polymorph zone deep to the olfactory tubercle. In addition, projections have been demonstrated to the deep amygdaloid nuclei, especially from the more ventromedial and caudal parts of the olfactory cortex. The patterns of termination of centrifugal projections from several of the olfactory cortical areas to the olfactory bulb are also described. Most of these are concentrated in the granule cell layer, but the fibers from the pars ventroposterior of the anterior olfactory nucleus also end in the periglomerular region. Only the projection from the pars externa of the anterior olfactory nucleus to the contralateral olfactory bulb was found to be topographically organized.
- commissural fibers
- endopiriform nucleus
- intracortical fibers
- nucleus of the lateral olfactory tract
- olfactory cortex