Topography and receptive field organization of the body midline representation in the ventrobasal complex of the cat

P. Barbaresi, F. Conti, T. Manzoni

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The topography and receptive field (RF) organization of neurones in the trunk zone of the thalamic ventrobasal complex (VB) projecting to the homologous zone of the ipsilateral first somatosensory area (SI) were studied in the cat by performing experiments of retrograde neuronal tracing and microelectrode recording. Punctate cortical injections of small amounts of either horseradish peroxidase or fluorescent tracers (Evans Blue, Nuclear Yellow and Fast Blue) retrogradely labelled cell aggregates lying in the dorsal half of a VB region interposed between subnucleus VPL1 and VPLm. Aggregates of labelled cells were narrow in dorsoventral and mediolateral extent and elongated rostrocaudally. The distribution of VB cells projecting to the cortical subareas representing the dorsal midline, lateral trunk and ventral midline of the body in area SI, was established by injecting a different fluorescent marker into a physiologically defined site in each subarea. These injections resulted in labelling of three different cell aggregates located in topographically distinct regions of the VB trunk zone. Each aggregate of labelled cells only projected to one cortical subarea. Microelectrode analysis of cell populations of the VB trunk zone showed that neurones lying in regions projecting to dorsal and ventral midline zones of area SI had bilateral RFs, straddling the dorsal and the ventral midline of the body respectively. Neurones lying in the region projecting to the lateral trunk representation of area SI had contralateral RFs located on the lateral surface of the trunk. The results suggest that the detailed topography of the trunk map in the area SI and the bilaterality of the cortical representation of the body midlines, described in previous experiments, is imposed by the thalamocortical input from the VB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-336
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1984


  • Body midline
  • Fluorescent tracers
  • Horseradish peroxidase
  • Unit recording
  • Ventrobasal complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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