Recent cytoarchitectonic, histochemical, and hodological studies in primates have shown that area 6 is formed by three main sectors: the supplementary motor area, superior area 6, which lies medial to the spur of the arcuate sulcus, and inferior area 6, which is located lateral to it. Inferior area 6 has been further subdivided into two histochemical areas: area F5, located along the inferior limb of the arcuate sulcus, and area F4, located between area F5 and area 4 (area F1). The present study traced the thalamocortical projections of inferior area 6 and the adjacent part of area 4 by injecting small amounts of WGA-HRP in specific sectors of the agranular frontal cortex. Our data showed that each histochemical area receives a large projection from one nucleus of the ventrolateral thalamus (motor thalamus) and additional projections from other nuclei of this thalamic sector. Area F5 receives a large projection from area X of Olszewski ('52) and additional projections from the caudal part of the nucleus ventralis posterior lateralis, pars oralis (VPLo), and the nucleus ventralis lateralis, pars caudalis (VLc) (VPLo-VLc complex). Area F4 receives a large projection from the nucleus ventralis lateralis, pars oralis (VLo), and additional projections from area X and the VPLo-VLc complex. The rostral part of area F1 is innervated chiefly by VLo, plus smaller contributions from rostral VPLo and the VPLo-VLc complex. The caudal part of F1 receives its greatest input from VPLo, with a small contribution from VLo. In addition, each histochemical area receives projections originating from the intralaminar thalamic nuclei, the posterior thalamus, and--for area F4 and area F5--also from the nucleus medialis dorsalis (MD). Analysis of the physiological properties of the various histochemical areas in relation to their main thalamic input showed that those cortical fields in which distal movements are predominant (area F5, caudal part of area F1) are innervated chiefly by area X and VPLo, whereas those cortical fields in which proximal movements are predominant receive their main input from VLo. Because VPLo and area X are targets of cerebellothalamic pathways, whereas VLo receives a pallidal input, we propose that the cortical fields in which distal movements are most heavily represented are mainly under the influence of the cerebellum, whereas the cortical fields in which proximal movements are most heavily represented are mainly under the influence of the basal ganglia.
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