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Keywords:

  • medial prefrontal cortex;
  • orbitofrontal cortex;
  • memory;
  • CA1;
  • subiculum;
  • presubiculum;
  • area 29;
  • lateral prefrontal cortex;
  • working memory

Abstract

The sources of ipsilateral projections from the hippocampal formation, the presubiculum, area 29a-c, and parasubiculum to medial, orbital, and lateral prefrontal cortices were studied with retrograde tracers in 27 rhesus monkeys. Labeled neurons within the hippocampal formation (CA1, CA1′, prosubiculum, and subiculum) were found rostrally, although some were noted throughout the entire rostrocaudal extent of the hippocampal formation. Most labeled neurons in the hippocampal formation projected to medial prefrontal cortices, followed by orbital areas. In addition, there were differences in the topography of afferent neurons projecting to medial when compared with orbital cortices. Labeled neurons innervating medial cortices were found mainly in the CA1′ and CA1 fields rostrally, but originated in the subicular fields caudally. In contrast, labeled neurons which innervated orbital cortices were considerably more focal, emanating from the same relative position within a field throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the hippocampal formation.

In marked contrast to the pattern of projection to medial and orbital prefrontal cortices, lateral prefrontal areas received projections from only a few labeled neurons found mostly in the subicular fields. Lateral prefrontal cortices, lateral prefrontal cortices received the most robust projections from the presubiculum and the supracallosal area 29a-c. Orbital, and to a lesser extent medial, prefrontal areas received projections from a smaller but significant number of neurons from the presubiculum and area 29a-c. Only a few labeled neurons were found in the parasubiculum, and most projected to medial prefrontal areas.

The results suggest that functionally distinct prefrontal cortices receive projections from different components of the hippocampal region. Medial and orbital prefrontal cortices may have a role in long-term mnemonic process similar to those associated with the hippocampal formation with which they are linked. Moreover, the preponderance of projection neurons from the hippocampal formation innervating medial when compared with orbital prefrontal areas followed the opposite trend from what we had observed previously for the amygdala (Barbas and De Olmos [1990]) (J Comp Neurol 301:1–23). Thus, the hippocampal formation, associated with mnemonic processes, targets predominantly medial prefrontal cortices, whereas the amygdala, associated with emotional aspects of memory, issues robust projections to orbital limbic cortices. Lateral prefrontal cortices receive robust projections from the presubiculum and area 29a-c and sparse projections from the hippocampal formation. These findings are consistent with the idea that the role of lateral prefrontal cortices in memory is distinct from that of either medial or orbital cortices. The results suggest that signals from functionally distinct limbic structures to some extent follow parallel pathways to functionally distinct prefrontal cortices. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.