Functional organization of auditory cortex in the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus). IV. Connections with anatomically characterized subcortical structures


: Dr Eike Budinger, Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, PO Box 1860, D-39008 Magdeburg, Germany.


The subcortical connections of the four tonotopically organized fields of the auditory cortex of the Mongolian gerbil, namely the primary (AI), the anterior (AAF), the dorsoposterior (DP) and the ventroposterior field (VP), were studied predominantly by anterograde transport of biocytin injected into these fields. In order to allow the localization of connections with respect to subdivisions of subcortical auditory structures, their cyto-, fibre- and chemoarchitecture was characterized using staining methods for cell bodies, myelin and the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin. Each injected auditory cortical field has substantial and reciprocal connections with each of the three subdivision of the medial geniculate body (MGB), namely the ventral (MGv), dorsal (MGd) and medial division (MGm). However, the relative strengths of these connections vary: AI is predominantly connected with MGv, AAF with MGm and MGv, and DP and VP with MGd and MGv. The connections of at least AI and MGv are topographic: injections into caudal low-frequency AI label laterorostral portions of MGv, whereas injections into rostral high-frequency AI label mediocaudal portions of MGv. All investigated auditory fields send axons to the suprageniculate, posterior limitans, laterodorsal and lateral posterior thalamic nuclei, with strongest projections from DP and VP, as well as to the reticular and subgeniculate thalamic nuclei. AI, AAF, DP and VP project to all three subdivisions of the inferior colliculus, namely the dorsal cortex, external cortex and central nucleus ipsilaterally and to the dorsal and external cortex contralaterally. They also project to the deep and intermediate layers of the ipsilateral superior colliculus, with strongest projections from DP and VP to the lateral and basolateral amygdaloid nuclei, the caudate putamen, globus pallidus and the pontine nuclei. In addition, AAF and particularly DP and VP project to paralemniscal regions around the dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus (DNLL), to the DNLL itself and to the rostroventral aspect of the superior olivary complex. Moreover, DP and VP send axons to the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. The differences with respect to the existence and/or relative strengths of subcortical connections of the examined auditory cortical fields suggest a somewhat different function of each of these fields in auditory processing.