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Keywords:

  • somatosensory cortex;
  • ventroposterior thalamus;
  • gustatory thalamus

ABSTRACT

Representations of the parts of the oral cavity and face in somatosensory area 3b of macaque monkeys were identified with microelectrode recordings and injected with different neuroanatomical tracers to reveal patterns of thalamic projections to tongue, teeth, and other representations in primary somatosensory cortex. The locations of injection sites and resulting labeled neurons were further determined by relating sections processed to reveal tracers to those processed for myeloarchitecture in the cortex and multiple architectural stains in the thalamus. The ventroposterior medial subnucleus (VPM) for touch was identified as separate from the ventroposterior medial parvicellular nucleus (VPMpc) for taste by differential expression of several types of proteins. Our results revealed somatotopically matched projections from VPM to the part of 3b representing intra-oral structures and the face. Retrogradely labeled cells resulting from injections in area 3b were also found in other thalamic nuclei including: anterior pulvinar (Pa), ventroposterior inferior (VPI), ventroposterior superior (VPS), ventroposterior lateral (VPL), ventral lateral (VL), center median (CM), central lateral (CL), and medial dorsal (MD). None of our injections, including those into the representation of the tongue, labeled neurons in VPMpc, the thalamic taste nucleus. Thus, area 3b does not appear to be involved in processing taste information from the thalamus. This result stands in contrast to those reported for New World monkeys. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:3954–3971, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.