The organization of projections from the macaque orbital and medial prefrontal cortex (OMPFC) to the hypothalamus and related regions of the diencephalon and midbrain was studied with retrograde and anterograde tracing techniques. Almost all of the prefrontal cortical projections to the hypothalamus arise from areas within the “medial prefrontal network,” as defined previously by Carmichael and Price ( J. Comp. Neurol. 371:179–207). Outside of the OMPFC, only a few neurons in the temporal pole, anterior cingulate and insular cortex project to the hypothalamus. Axons from the OMPFC also innervate the basal forebrain, zona incerta, and ventral midbrain.
Within the medial prefrontal network, different regions project to distinct parts of the hypothalamus. The medial wall areas 25 and 32 send the heaviest projections to the hypothalamus; axons from these areas are especially concentrated in the anterior hypothalamic area and the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus. Orbital areas 13a, 12o, and Iai, which are related to the medial prefrontal network, selectively innervate the lateral hypothalamic area, especially its posterior part. The cellular regions of the paraventricular, supraoptic, suprachiasmatic, arcuate, and mammillary nuclei are conspicuously devoid of cortical axons, but many axons abut the borders of these nuclei and may contact dendrites that extend from them. Areas within the orbital prefrontal network on the posterior orbital surface and agranular insula send only weak projections to the posterior lateral hypothalamic area. The rostral orbital surface does not contribute to the cortico-hypothalamic projection. J. Comp. Neurol. 401:480–505, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.