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Keywords:

  • brainstem;
  • cuneate;
  • reticular formation;
  • tract-tracing;
  • trigeminal

Abstract

The present study uses a double retrograde tracer technique in rats to examine the spatial localization and pattern of axonal branching in mossy fibres arising from three major sources in the medulla—the external cuneate nucleus, the sensory trigeminal nucleus and the reticular formation, to two electrophysiologically-identified parts of the cerebellar cortex that are linked by common climbing fibre input – the forelimb-receiving parts of the C1 zone in lobulus simplex and the paramedian lobule. In each experiment a small injection of rhodamine-tagged beads was injected into one cortical region and an injection of fluorescein-tagged beads was injected into the other region. The main findings were: (i) the proportion of double-labelled cells in each of the three precerebeller sources of mossy fibres was positively correlated with those in the inferior olive; and (ii) the C1 zone in lobulus simplex was found to receive a greater density of projections from all three sources of mossy fibres than the C1 zone in the paramedian lobule. These data suggest that two rostrocaudally separated but somatotopically corresponding parts of the C1 zone receive common mossy fibre and climbing fibre inputs. However, the differences in projection densities also suggest that the two parts of the zone differ in the extent to which they receive mossy fibre signals arising from the same precerebellar nuclei. This implies differences in function between somatotopically corresponding parts of the same cortical zone, and could enable a higher degree of parallel processing and integration of information within them.