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Connections of the macaque Granular Frontal Opercular (GrFO) area: a possible neural substrate for the contribution of limbic inputs for controlling hand and face/mouth actions

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We traced the connections of the macaque Granular Frontal Opercular (GrFO) area, located in the rostralmost part of the frontal opercular margin, and compared them with those of the caudally adjacent dorsal opercular (DO) and precentral opercular (PrCO) areas. Area GrFO displays strong connections with areas DO, PrCO, and ventrolateral prefrontal (VLPF) area 12l, and even more with the mostly hand-related ventral premotor (PMv) area F5a. Other connections involve the mostly face/mouth-related PMv area F5c, the arm-related area F6/pre-SMA, the hand-related fields of VLPF areas 46v and 12r, and area SII, mostly the hand representation. Furthermore, area GrFO shows rich connectivity with several components of the limbic system including orbitofrontal areas 12o, 12m, and 11, the agranular and dysgranular insula, the agranular cingulate area 24, and the amygdala. Thalamic afferents originate primarily from the parvocellular and the magnocellular subdivisions of the mediodorsal nucleus and from midline and intralaminar nuclei. This connectivity pattern clearly distinguishes area GrFO from areas DO and PrCO, characterized by a connectivity mostly involving oral sensorimotor and gustatory areas/subcortical structures. The present data suggest, based on connectivity patterns, an involvement of area GrFO in the cortical circuits for controlling goal-directed hand and face/mouth actions. In this context, area GrFO could represent a gateway for the access of limbic inputs, for example about subjective values, emotional significance of stimuli or internal states, to the PMv areas involved in selecting appropriate goal-directed hand and mouth/face actions.

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The work was supported by Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca (grant number: PRIN 2010, 2010MEFNF7_005), European Commission Grant Cogsystems FP7-250013, and Interuniversity Attraction Poles (IAP) P7/11.

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Correspondence to Giuseppe Luppino.

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Gerbella, M., Borra, E., Rozzi, S. et al. Connections of the macaque Granular Frontal Opercular (GrFO) area: a possible neural substrate for the contribution of limbic inputs for controlling hand and face/mouth actions. Brain Struct Funct 221, 59–78 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-014-0892-8

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  • Hand motor control
  • Limbic system
  • Gustatory cortex
  • Premotor cortex