• CTB-HRP;
  • facial muscles;
  • motoneurons;
  • neuroanatomical tracers;
  • primate


The architecture and musculotopic organization of the facial motor nucleus in the Cebus apella monkey (a New World primate) were investigated using histological techniques and a multiple labelling strategy, in which horseradish peroxidase-conjugated neuroanatomical tracers (CTB-HRP and WGA-HRP) and fluorescent tracers were injected into individual facial muscles. The facial motor nucleus was formed by multipolar motoneurons and had an ovoid shape, with its rostrocaudal axis measuring on average 1875 µm. We divided the nucleus into four different subnuclei: medial, intermediate, dorsal and lateral. Retrograde labelling patterns revealed that individual muscles were innervated by longitudinal functional columns of motoneurons. The columns of the orbicularis oculi, zygomaticus, orbicularis oris, auricularis superior, buccinator and platysma muscles were located in the dorsal, intermediate, lateral, medial, lateral and intermediate subnuclei, respectively. However, the motoneuron columns of the levator labii superioris alaeque nasi muscle and frontalis muscle could not be associated with a specific subnucleus. The present results confirm previous studies regarding the musculotopic organization of the facial motor nucleus. However, we observed some particularities in terms of the relative size of each column in C. apella, which might be related to the functional and behavioral importance of each muscle in the particular context of this primate.