, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 411-435

Organization of feedback and feedforward projections of the barrel cortex: a PHA-L study in the mouse

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Summary

In order to analyze the organization of the efferent projections of single barrel columns (BC, i.e. a barrel in layer IV of parietal cortex plus the cortical tissue above and below it), we made small iontophoretic injections of the anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin in the barrel cortex of 20 adult mice. On the basis of reconstructions of the sites of terminal labelling, the brain regions receiving projections from the barrel cortex could be identified and classified in five groups. Each group is characterized by the topography of the distribution of efferents arising from a single BC. The projections to the trigeminal sensory complex are point to point: i.e. one BC projects only to the site of termination of the primary sensory neurons innervating the corresponding whisker follicle. In the ventrobasal thalamic nucleus BC projections are not restricted to the corresponding barreloid; instead they contact parts of barreloids belonging to one arc. In the reticular and posterior thalamic nuclei the projections from a row of BC's converge to a collective termination site, whereas in the superior colliculus the projections from an arc of BC's converge to a common termination site. There is a complete overlap of BC projections in restricted zones within SII, motor cortex, perirhinal cortex, contralateral barrelfield, caudoputamen and pons. The organization of the efferents from the barrel cortex demonstrates a contrast between feedback and feedforward projections from this important area of neocortex.