Thalamocortical connections of the parabelt auditory cortex in macaque monkeys



The auditory cortex of macaque monkeys contains a core of primary-like areas surrounded by a narrow belt of associated fields that encompass much of the superior temporal plane in these animals. Adjacent to the lateral belt on the superior temporal gyrus is a parabelt region that contains at least two subdivisions (rostral and caudal). In a previous study (Hackett et al. [1998] J. Comp. Neurol. 394:475–495), we determined that the parabelt has topographic connections with the belt areas surrounding the core, but minimal connections with the core itself. In this study, we describe the thalamocortical connections of the parabelt auditory cortex based on multiple injections of neuronal tracers into this region in each of five macaque monkeys. Injections confined to the parabelt labeled large numbers of neurons in the dorsal (MGd) and magnocellular (MGm) divisions of the medial geniculate complex (MGC), suprageniculate (Sg), limitans (Lim), and medial pulvinar (PM) nuclei. Only when injections encroached on the lateral belt cortex were substantial numbers of labeled neurons found in the ventral (MGv) division of the MGC, consistent with the absence of significant connections between the parabelt and core fields. The rostrocaudal topography of the parabelt region was maintained in the thalamocortical connections, supporting the parcellation of this region of cortex. The results suggest that the parabelt region represents a third level of auditory cortical processing, which is not influenced by direct inputs from primary cortical or subcortical auditory structures. J. Comp. Neurol. 400:271–286, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.