Topography of projections from the primary and non-primary auditory cortical areas to the medial geniculate body and thalamic reticular nucleus in the rat

A Kimura, T Donishi, K Okamoto, Y Tamai
Neuroscience 2005, 135 (4): 1325-42
The functional significance of parallel and redundant information processing by multiple cortical auditory fields remains elusive. A possible function is that they may exert distinct corticofugal modulations on thalamic information processing through their parallel connections with the medial geniculate body and thalamic reticular nucleus. To reveal the anatomical framework for this function, we examined corticothalamic projections of tonotopically comparable subfields in the primary and non-primary areas in the rat auditory cortex. Biocytin was injected in and around cortical area Te1 after determining best frequency at the injection site on the basis of epicortical field potentials evoked by pure tones. The rostral part of area Te1 (primary auditory area) and area temporal cortex, area 2, dorsal (Te2D) (posterodorsal auditory area) dorsal to the caudal end of area Te1, which both exhibited high best frequencies, projected to the ventral zone of the ventral division of the medial geniculate body. The caudal end of area Te1 (auditory area) and the rostroventral part of area Te1 (a part of anterior auditory field), which both exhibited low best frequencies, projected to the dorsal zone of the ventral division of the medial geniculate body. In contrast to the similar topography in the projections to the ventral division of the medial geniculate body, collateral projections to the thalamic reticular nucleus terminated in the opposite dorsal and ventral zones of the lateral and middle tiers of the nucleus in each pair of the tonotopically comparable cortical subfields. In addition, the projections of the non-primary cortical subfields further arborized in the medial tier of the thalamic reticular nucleus. The results suggest that tonotopically comparable primary and non-primary subfields in the auditory cortex provide corticofugal excitatory effects to the same part of the ventral division of the medial geniculate body. On the other hand, corticofugal inhibition via the thalamic reticular nucleus may operate in different parts of the ventral division of the medial geniculate body or different thalamic nuclei. The primary and non-primary cortical auditory areas are presumed to subserve distinct gating functions for auditory attention.

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