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Abstract

The efferent connections of the hippocampal formation of the rat have been re-examined autoradiographically following the injection of small quantities of 3H-amino acids (usually 3H-proline) into different parts of Ammon's horn and the adjoining structures. The findings indicate quite clearly that each component of the hippocampal formation has a distinctive pattern of efferent connections and that each component of the fornix system arises from a specific subdivision of the hippocampus or the adjoining cortical fields. Thus, the precommissural fornix has been found to originate solely in fields CA1-3 of the hippocampus proper and from the subiculum; the projection to the anterior nuclear complex of the thalamus arises more posteriorly in the pre- and/or parasubiculum and the postsubicular area; the projection to the mammillary complex which comprises a major part of the descending columns of the fornix has its origin in the dorsal subiculum and the pre- and/or parasubiculum; and finally, the medial cortico-hypothalamic tract arises from the ventral subiculum. The lateral septal nuclei (and the adjoining parts of the posterior septal complex) constitute the only subcortical projection field of the pyramidal cells in fields CA1-3 of Ammon's horn. There is a rostral extension of the pre-commissural fornix to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, the nucleus accumbens, the medial and posterior parts of the anterior olfactory nucleus, the taenia tecta, and the infralimbic area, which appears to arise from the temporal part of field CA, or the adjacent part of the ventral subiculum. The projection of Ammon's horn upon the lateral septal complex shows a high degree of topographic organization (such that different parts of fields CA1 and CA3 project in an ordered manner to different zones within the lateral septal nucleus). The septal projection of “CA2” and field CA3 is bilateral, while that of field CA1 is strictly unilateral. In addition to its subcortical projections, the hippocampus has been found to give rise to a surprisingly extensive series of intracortical association connections. For example, all parts of fields CA1, CA2 and CA3 project to the subiculum, and at least some parts of these fields send fibers to the pre- and parasubiculum, and to the entorhinal, perirhinal, retrosplenial and cingulate areas. From the region of the preand parasubiculum there is a projection to the entorhinal cortex and the parasubiculum of both sides. That part of the postsubiculum (= dorsal part of the presubiculum) which we have examined has been found to project to the cingulate and retrosplenial areas ipsilaterally, and to the entorhinal cortex and parasubiculum bilaterally.