Efferent fibers from the motor cortex terminate bilaterally in the thalamus of rats and cats

M. Molinari, D. Minciacchi, M. Bentivoglio, G. Macchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The anterograde transport of lectin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) was here employed in order to visualize crossed cortico-thalamic efferents of the motor cortex in rats and cats. After WGA-HRP cortical injections in the rat retrogradely labeled cells were observed in the ipsilateral thalamus, and heavy anterograde labeling was observed both in the ipsi-and contralateral thalamus. The contralateral anterograde labeling was less intense than the ipsilateral one and it was distributed in the anterior intralaminar structures, in the parafascicular nucleus, in the ventromedial, ventrolateral and ventrobasal nuclei and in the posterior complex, symmetrically to the labeling observed on the ipsilateral side. Further experiments were made in the rat in order to ascertain that the bilateral anterograde labeling in the thalamus derived unilaterally from the cortex. To this purpose, kainic acid was injected unilaterally either into the frontal cortex or into the thalamus, and WGA-HRP was later injected on the same side in the frontal cortex. Moreover, WGA-HRP was injected into the frontal cortex after splitting of the corpus callosum. The results obtained in these experiments confirmed that cortical neurons projected bilaterally upon the thalamus. Further, these experiments indicated that at least the majority of the contralateral fronto-thalamic fibers crossed the midline in the thalamic massa intermedia. WGA-HRP injections into the pericruciate cortex in the cat confirmed the presence of anterogradely labeled terminals in the contralateral anterior and posterior intralaminar, ventral anterior, ventromedial and ventrolateral nuclei. The labeling was in all cases heavier in the intralaminar nuclei than in the other structures, but it was less intense than that observed in the rat. The labeling in the contralateral principal nuclei was heavier in one case in which the injection area diffused into the proreal cortex than in the other cats. Thus, the present results indicate that frontal efferents terminate more densely in the rat's than in the cat's contralateral thalamus. In the latter species frontal fibers are mainly distributed upon the contralateral intralaminar nuclei, whereas in the rat frontal efferents are also heavily distributed upon the ventral nuclear complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-312
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1985


  • Cortico-thalamic system
  • Crossed projections
  • Motor cortex
  • WGA-HRP anterograde tracing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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