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Keywords:

  • entorhinal cortex;
  • fornix;
  • hippocampus;
  • hypothalamus;
  • memory;
  • subiculum;
  • temporal lobe

Abstract

A combination of anterograde and retrograde tracers mapped the direct hippocampal and parahippocampal inputs to the mammillary bodies in two species of macaque monkey. Dense projections arose from pyramidal cells in layer III of the subiculum and prosubiculum, and terminated in the medial mammillary nucleus. While there was no evidence of an input from the dentate gyrus or fields CA1–3, a small contribution arose from the presubiculum and entorhinal cortices. All of the hippocampal and parahippocampal projections to the mammillary bodies appeared to use the fornix as a route. The caudal portions of the subiculum and prosubiculum contained the greatest numbers of cells projecting to the mammillary bodies. A light contralateral projection to the medial mammillary nucleus was also observed, although this appeared to arise primarily from the more rostral portions of the subiculum and prosubiculum. There was a crude topography within the medial mammillary nucleus, with the caudal subicular projections terminating in the mid and dorsal portions of the nucleus while the rostral subicular and entorhinal projections terminated in the ventral and lateral portions of the medial nucleus. Light ipsilateral projections throughout the lateral mammillary nucleus were sometimes observed. Comparisons with related studies of the macaque brain showed that the dense hippocampal projections to the mammillary bodies arise from a population of subicular cells separate from those that project to the anterior thalamic nuclei, even though the major output from the mammillary bodies is to the anterior thalamic nuclei. Other comparisons revealed underlying similarities with the corresponding projections in the rat brain.