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Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 212, Issue 2, pp 149–179 | Cite as

Anatomical analysis of afferent projections to the medial prefrontal cortex in the rat

  • Walter B. Hoover
  • Robert P. VertesEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been associated with diverse functions including attentional processes, visceromotor activity, decision making, goal directed behavior, and working memory. Using retrograde tracing techniques, we examined, compared, and contrasted afferent projections to the four divisions of the mPFC in the rat: the medial (frontal) agranular (AGm), anterior cingulate (AC), prelimbic (PL), and infralimbic (IL) cortices. Each division of the mPFC receives a unique set of afferent projections. There is a shift dorsoventrally along the mPFC from predominantly sensorimotor input to the dorsal mPFC (AGm and dorsal AC) to primarily ‘limbic’ input to the ventral mPFC (PL and IL). The AGm and dorsal AC receive afferent projections from widespread areas of the cortex (and associated thalamic nuclei) representing all sensory modalities. This information is presumably integrated at, and utilized by, the dorsal mPFC in goal directed actions. In contrast with the dorsal mPFC, the ventral mPFC receives significantly less cortical input overall and afferents from limbic as opposed to sensorimotor regions of cortex. The main sources of afferent projections to PL/IL are from the orbitomedial prefrontal, agranular insular, perirhinal and entorhinal cortices, the hippocampus, the claustrum, the medial basal forebrain, the basal nuclei of amygdala, the midline thalamus and monoaminergic nuclei of the brainstem. With a few exceptions, there are few projections from the hypothalamus to the dorsal or ventral mPFC. Accordingly, subcortical limbic information mainly reaches the mPFC via the midline thalamus and basal nuclei of amygdala. As discussed herein, based on patterns of afferent (as well as efferent) projections, PL is positioned to serve a direct role in cognitive functions homologous to dorsolateral PFC of primates, whereas IL appears to represent a visceromotor center homologous to the orbitomedial PFC of primates.

Keywords

Claustrum Nucleus reuniens Memory Mediodorsal nucleus of thalamus Insular cortex 

Abbreviations

AA

Anterior area of amygdala

AC

Anterior cingulate cortex

ACC

Nucleus accumbens

AD

Anterodorsal nucleus of thalamus

AGm

Medial agranular (frontal) cortex

AGl

Lateral agranular (frontal) cortex

AH

Anterior nucleus of hypothalamus

AI,d,p,v

Agranular insular cortex, dorsal, posterior, ventral divisions

AM,d

Anteromedial nucleus of thalamus, dorsal division

AON, m,v

Anterior olfactory nucleus, medial, ventral parts

AQ

Cerebral aqueduct

APN

Anterior pretectal nucleus

AUD

Auditory cortex

AV

Anteroventral nucleus of thalamus

BF

Basal forebrain

BLA

Basolateral nucleus of amygdala

BMA,p

Basomedial nucleus of amygdala, posterior part

BST

Bed nucleus of stria terminalis

CA1,3

Field CA1 and CA3 of Ammon’s horn

CB

Cinguum bundle

CC

Corpus callosum

CEA

Central nucleus of amygdala

CL

Central lateral nucleus of the thalamus

CLA

Claustrum

CLi

Central linear nucleus

CM

Central medial nucleus of thalamus

COA

Cortical nucleus of amygdala

CP

Caudate-putamen

CUN

Cuneiform nucleus

DBh

Nucleus of diagonal band, horizontal limb

DG

Dentate gyrus of hippocampus

DI

Dysgranular insular cortex

DR

Dorsal raphe nucleus

EC,l,m

Entorhinal cortex, lateral, medial divisions

ECT

Ectorhinal cortex

EN

Endopiriform nucleus

FP,l,m

Frontal polar cortex, lateral, medial divisions

FR

Fasciculus retroflexus

FS

Fundus of the striatum

GI

Granular insular cortex

GP

Globus pallidus

HF

Hippocampal formation

IAM

Interanteromedial nucleus of thalamus

IC

Inferior colliculus

IF

Interfascicular nucleus

IL

Infralimbic cortex

IMD

Intermediodorsal necleus of thalamus

INC

Insular cortex

IP

Interpeduncular nucleus

LA

Lateral nucleus of amygdala

LC

Locus coeruleus

LD

Lateral dorsal nucleus of thalamus

LDT

Laterodorsal tegmental nucleus

LG,d

Lateral geniculate nucleus, dorsal division

LH

Lateral habenula

LHy

Lateral hypothalamus

LM

Lateral mammillary nucleus

LO

Lateral orbital cortex

LP

Lateral posterior nucleus of thalamus

LPO

Lateral preoptic area

LS

Lateral septum

LV

Lateral ventricle

MA

Magnocellular preoptic nucleus

MB

Mammillary bodies

MD

Mediodorsal nucleus of thalamus

MEA

Medial nucleus of the amygdala

MFB

Medial forebrain bundle

MG,v

Medial geniculate nucleus, ventral division

MH

Medial habenula

MO

Medial orbital cortex

mPFC

Medial prefrontal cortex

MPO

Medial preoptic area

MR

Median raphe nucleus

MRF

Mesencephalic reticular formation

MS

Medial septum

MT

Mammillothalamic tract

NI

Nucleus incertus

NLL

Nucleus of lateral lemniscus

NP

Nucleus of pons

OC,1,2

Occipital cortex, primary and secondary divisions

OT

Olfactory tubercle

PA

Posterior nucleus of amygdala

PAG

Periaqueductal gray

PAp

Posterior parietal cortex

PARA

Parasubiculum of HF

PB, l, m

Parabrachial nucleus, lateral, medial divisions

PC

Paracentral nucleus of thalamus

PF

Parafascicular nucleus

PH

Posterior nucleus of hypothalamus

PIR

Piriform cortex

PL

Prelimbic cortex

PN5

Principal sensory nucleus of trigeminal nerve

PO

Posterior nucleus of thalamus

POST

Postsubiculum of HF

PPT

Pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus

PRC

Perirhinal cortex

PRE

Presubiculum of HF

PT

Paratenial nucleus of thalamus

PV

Paraventricular nucleus of thalamus

RAM

Radial arm maze

RE

Nucleus reuniens of thalamus

RF

Rhinal fissue

RH

Rhomboid nucleus of thalamus

RLi

Rostral linear nucleus

RM

Raphe magnus

RN

Red nucleus

RPC

Nucleus pontis caudalis

RPO

Nucleus pontis oralis

RSC

Retrosplenial cortex

RR

Retrorubral area

RT

Reticular nucleus of thalamus

SC

Superior colliculus

SF

Septofimbrial nucleus

SI

Substantia innominata

sm

Stria medullaris

SM

Submedial nucleus of thalamus

SN,c,r

Substantia nigra, pars compacta, pars reticulata

SSI

Primary somatosensory cortex

SSII

Secondary somatosensory cortex

SUB,d,v

Subiculum, dorsal, ventral parts

SUM

Supramammillary nucleus

TE

Temporal cortex

TR

Amygdalo-piriform transition zone

TT,d,v

Taenia tecta, dorsal, ventral parts

V3

Third ventricle

V4

Forth ventricle

VAL

Ventral anterior-lateral complex of thalamus

VB

Ventrobasal complex of thalamus

VLO

Ventrolateral orbital cortex

VM

Ventral medial nucleus of thalamus

VO

Ventral orbital cortex

VTA

Ventral tegmental area

ZI

Zona incerta

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© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Complex Systems and Brain SciencesFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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