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The topology of the thalamo-cortical projections in the marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus)

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This paper addresses the question of a general topological principle of thalamo-cortical projections. In the lissencephalic primate brain of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), large injections of horseradish peroxidase were made in various parts of the neocortex. These injections were placed in different animals and hemispheres along various caudo-rostral and mediolateral gradients. Labelled cells in the thalamus were plotted and the labelling-zones resulting from several injections along a medio-lateral and two caudo-rostral cortical vectors were drawn into semi-schematic thalamic maps. These composite maps reveal a topological organization of the whole thalamo-cortical projection. The thalamic representation of the caudo-rostral and mediolateral gradients indicate a rotation of the posterior relative to the anterior thalamus. An attempt is made to relate the organization of the thalamo-cortical projection to the development of the thalamus and the cortex. The cortex is divided into concentric zones around the sensory-motor and insular cortex. The thalamus is divided into corresponding projection zones. The topology of thalamo-cortical connections can then be regarded as a consequence of corresponding thalamic and cortical growth gradients. This is not only consistent with the general thalamo-cortical topology and the inversion of maps from thalamus to cortex, but also explains the continuity and overlap of thalamic projection zones in the pulvinar to widely separated cortical areas as the parietal, temporal and frontal association cortex.

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Nucleus anterior dorsalis thalami


Nucleus anterior medialis thalami


Nucleus anterior ventralis thalami


Nucleus centralis dorsalis thalami


Nucleus centralis lateralis thalami


Nucleus centralis medialis thalami


Centre median


Corpus geniculaturn laterale dorsale


Corpus geniculatum laterale ventrale


Corpus geniculatum mediale


Nucleus lateralis dorsalis thalami


Nucleus limitans thalami


Nucleus lateralis posterior thalami


Nucleus medialis dorsalis thalami


Nucleus parafascicularis thalami


Nucleus paraventricularis thalami


Pulvinar inferior


Pulvinar inferior posterior


Pulvinar lateralis


Pulvinar medialis


Pulvinar oralis


Nucleus Reuniens


Nucleus suprageniculatus


Nucleus ventralis anterior


Nucleus ventralis anterior magnocellularis


Nucleus ventralis lateralis


Nucleus ventralis posterior


Nucleus ventralis posterior lateralis


Nucleus ventralis posterior medialis


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Brysch, W., Brysch, I., Creutzfeldt, O.D. et al. The topology of the thalamo-cortical projections in the marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus). Exp Brain Res 81, 1–17 (1990).

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Key words

  • Thalamo-cortical connections
  • Topology
  • Development
  • Specific and intralaminar thalamic nuclei
  • Primate