In the macaque brain, projections from distant, interconnected cortical areas converge in specific zones of the striatum. For example, specific zones of the motor putamen are targets of projections from frontal motor, inferior parietal, and ventrolateral prefrontal hand-related areas and thus are integral part of the so-called "lateral grasping network." In the present study, we analyzed the laminar distribution of corticostriatal neurons projecting to different parts of the motor putamen. Retrograde neural tracers were injected in different parts of the putamen in 3 Macaca mulatta (one male) and the laminar distribution of the labeled corticostriatal neurons was analyzed quantitatively. In frontal motor areas and frontal operculum, where most labeled cells were located, almost everywhere the proportion of corticostriatal labeled neurons in layers III and/or VI was comparable or even stronger than in layer V. Furthermore, within these regions, the laminar distribution pattern of corticostriatal labeled neurons largely varied independently from their density and from the projecting area/sector, but likely according to the target striatal zone. Accordingly, the present data show that cortical areas may project in different ways to different striatal zones, which can be targets of specific combinations of signals originating from the various cortical layers of the areas of a given network. These observations extend current models of corticostriatal interactions, suggesting more complex modes of information processing in the basal ganglia for different motor and nonmotor functions and opening new questions on the architecture of the corticostriatal circuitry.
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