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Abstract

Microelectrode multiunit mapping techniques were used to determine the somatotopic organization of postceritral parietal cortex in the squirrel monkey Saimiri sciurus. Recordings were largely confined to architectonic areas 3b and 1. Results were compared to those from similar studies of owl (Merzenich et al., '78) and macaque (Nelson et al., '80) monkeys. As in these previous investigations, separate representations of the body surface were found in areas 3b and 1 of squirrel monkeys. These representations were organized in parallel, so that both proceeded from the tail on the medial wall of the cerebral hemisphere, to the lips and oral cavity on the lateral margin of these areas along the sylvian fissure. The representations were also roughly mirror images of each other so that whatever skin surface was represented rostrally in area 3b was represented caudally in area 1, and similar skin surfaces were represented along the common border. However, the representations were not identical. For example, the split representations of the leg differed so that the distal leg was represented in cortex lateral to that devoted to the foot in area 1 and medial to the foot in area 3b. Remarkably, the representations of some body parts were reversed in orientation in both area 3b and area 1 in squirrel monkeys as compared to owl and macaque monkeys. The face, arm, trunk, and leg representations were all reversed in squirrel monkeys, while the orientations of the hand and foot representations were the same. For example, the dorsal trunk is represented rostrally in area 3b and caudally in area 1 and the ventral trunk is represented at the 3b/l border in owl and macaque monkeys, while the ventral trunk is represented rostrally in area 3b and caudally in area 1 and the dorsal trunk is represented at the 3b/1 border in squirrel monkeys. These reversals of somatotopic organization in part but not all of the representations in areas 3b and 1 suggest that both fields are divided into sectors where the basic somatotopic orientation is independently determined, that the orientation of some of these sectors is subject to reversal in evolution, and that matching sectors in areas 3b and 1 are not independent in somatotopic organization.