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Keywords:

  • primate cortex;
  • oculomotor;
  • visuomotor;
  • skeletomotor;
  • vision;
  • flattened cortex

Abstract

Physiological (intracortical microstimulation) and anatomical (transport of horseradish peroxidase conjugated to wheat germ agglutinin as shown by tetramethyl benzidine) approaches were combined in the same animals to reveal the locations, extents, and cortical connections of the frontal eye fields (FEF) in squirrel, owl, and macaque monkeys. In some of the same owl and macaque monkeys, intracortical microstimulation was also used to evoke eye movements from dorsomedial frontal cortex (the supplementary motor area). In addition, in all of the owl and squirrel monkeys, intracortical microstimulation was also used to evoke body movements from the premotor and motor cortex situated between the central dimple and the FEF. These microstimulation data were directly compared to the distribution of anterogradely and retrogradely transported label resulting from injections of tracer into the FEF in each monkey. Since the injection sites were limited to the physiologically defined FEF, the demonstrated connections were solely those of the FEF. To aid in the interpretation of areal patterns of connections, the relatively smooth cortex of owl and squirrel monkeys was unfolded, flattened, and cut parallel to the flattened surface. Cortex of macaque monkeys, which has numerous deep sulci, was cut coronally.

Reciprocal connections with the ipsilateral frontal lobe were similar in all three species: dorsomedial cortex (supplementary motor area), cortex just rostral (periprincipal prefrontal cortex) to the FEF, and cortex just caudal (premotor cortex) to the FEF. In squirrel and owl monkeys, extensive reciprocal connections were made with cortex throughout the caudal half of the lateral fissure and, to a much lesser extent, cortex around the superior temporal sulcus. In macaque monkeys, only sparse connections were present with cortex of the lateral fissure, but extensive and dense connections were made with cortex throughout the caudal one-third to one-half of the superior temporal sulcus. In addition, very dense reciprocal connections were made with the cortex of the lateral, or inferior, bank of the intraparietal sulcus. Contralateral reciprocal connections in all three species were virtually limited to regions that correspond in location to the FEF and the supplementary motor area.

The results of this study reveal connections between the physiologically defined frontal eye field and cortical regions known to participate in higher order visual processing, short-term memory, multimodal, visuomotor, and skeletomotor functions. Some of the demonstrated pathways may contribute to functional interactions between oculomotor and skeletomotor systems, perhaps facilitating the planning and coordination of related eye, head, and hand movements.