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Keywords:

  • cerebral cortex;
  • pons;
  • cerebellum;
  • motor activity;
  • sensation

Abstract

The distribution of cortical cells projecting to the pontine nuclei in rats was studied by making large injections of horseradish peroxidase that filled the basilar pons and measuring the density of labelled cells in each cortical area. All retrogradely labelled cells were layer V pyramidal cells. The highest densities of labelled cells were observed in the motor areas. The lowest densities were in temporal association cortex and perirhinal cortex. Visual cortical areas, including the primary visual cortex, provided a major source of pontine projections. The distribution of corticopontine cells within the primary visual cortex was studied in more detail. In all cases the highest density of labelled cells was observed in the region of cortex that represents the nasal visual field. Control injections into brainstem regions adjacent to the pontine nuclei produced a much lower absolute density of retrogradely labelled cortical cells and the distribution of those cells was different from that observed following pontine injections. We conclude that every area of the rat's cerebral cortex projects to the pontine nuclei and that there are consistent variations in the density of the projections both between and within areas.