Studies of the representation of the trigeminal nerve in the thalamus and cerebral cortex of mammals have revealed representations of both contra- and ipsilateral intraoral structures. However, the relative extent of both representations is subject to considerable species variation. The present study employed microelectrode mapping and anatomical tracing to investigate the location and extent of the ipsilateral representation in area 3b of the somatosensory cortex of squirrel monkeys. A small region, approximately 2 mm2, was found to be responsive to stimulation of ipsilateral intraoral structures. This region was located on the anteromedial border of area 3b, surrounded by the representation of the contralateral roof of the mouth. This region corresponded to areas of intense anterograde labeling following injections placed in the ventromedial portion of the ventral posterior medial nucleus of the thalamus at the only sites where neural responses could be elicited by stimulation of ipsilateral intraoral structures. The amount of thalamus and cortex given over to the ipsilateral representation in the squirrel monkey is small compared with that of the macaque monkey. This difference may be related to the lack of cheek pouches in the squirrel monkey, and therefore a different strategy for eating.
The representation of the contralateral lower lip in area 3b was split by the representation of the contralateral upper lip. This split representation is in agreement with previous studies of the trigeminal representation in area 3b of the macaque monkey and may be a general feature of the representation of the trigeminal nerve in area 3b of primate cerebral cortex. © 1995 Wiley-Liss Inc.