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Topographically organized projection to posterior insular cortex from the posterior portion of the ventral medial nucleus in the long-tailed macaque monkey


  • A.D. (Bud) Craig

    Corresponding author
    1. Atkinson Research Laboratory, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona
    • Correspondence to: Dr. A.D. Craig, Atkinson Research Laboratory, Barrow Neurological Institute, 350 West Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85013. E-mail:

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Prior anterograde tracing work identified somatotopically organized lamina I trigemino- and spinothalamic terminations in a cytoarchitectonically distinct portion of posterolateral thalamus of the macaque monkey, named the posterior part of the ventral medial nucleus (VMpo; Craig [2004] J. Comp. Neurol. 477:119–148). Microelectrode recordings from clusters of selectively thermoreceptive or nociceptive neurons were used to guide precise microinjections of various tracers in VMpo. A prior report (Craig and Zhang [2006] J. Comp. Neurol. 499:953–964) described retrograde tracing results, which confirmed the selective lamina I input to VMpo and the anteroposterior (head to foot) topography. The present report describes the results of microinjections of anterograde tracers placed at different levels in VMpo, based on the anteroposterior topographic organization of selectively nociceptive units and clusters over nearly the entire extent of VMpo. Each injection produced dense, patchy terminal labeling in a single coherent field within a distinct granular cortical area centered in the fundus of the superior limiting sulcus. The terminations were distributed with a consistent anteroposterior topography over the posterior half of the superior limiting sulcus. These observations demonstrate a specific VMpo projection area in dorsal posterior insular cortex that provides the basis for a somatotopic representation of selectively nociceptive lamina I spinothalamic activity. These results also identify the VMpo terminal area as the posterior half of interoceptive cortex; the anterior half receives input from the vagal-responsive and gustatory neurons in the basal part of the ventral medial nucleus. J. Comp. Neurol. 522:36–63, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.