Patterns of cortical input to the primary motor area in the marmoset monkey

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ABSTRACT

In primates the primary motor cortex (M1) forms a topographic map of the body, whereby neurons in the medial part of this area control movements involving trunk and hindlimb muscles, those in the intermediate part control movements involving forelimb muscles, and those in the lateral part control movements of facial and other head muscles. This topography is accompanied by changes in cytoarchitectural characteristics, raising the question of whether the anatomical connections also vary between different parts of M1. To address this issue, we compared the patterns of cortical afferents revealed by retrograde tracer injections in different locations within M1 of marmoset monkeys. We found that the entire extent of this area is unified by projections from the dorsocaudal and medial subdivisions of premotor cortex (areas 6DC and 6M), from somatosensory areas 3a, 3b, 1/2, and S2, and from posterior parietal area PE. While cingulate areas projected to all subdivisions, they preferentially targeted the medial part of M1. Conversely, the ventral premotor areas were preferentially connected with the lateral part of M1. Smaller but consistent inputs originated in frontal area 6DR, ventral posterior parietal cortex, the retroinsular cortex, and area TPt. Connections with intraparietal, prefrontal, and temporal areas were very sparse, and variable. Our results demonstrate that M1 is unified by a consistent pattern of major connections, but also shows regional variations in terms of minor inputs. These differences likely reflect requirements for control of voluntary movement involving different body parts. J. Comp. Neurol. 522:811–843, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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