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Thalamic connections of the core auditory cortex and rostral supratemporal plane in the macaque monkey.

Scott, BH;Saleem, KS;Kikuchi, Y;Fukushima, M;Mishkin, M;Saunders, RC;

In the primate auditory cortex, information flows serially in the mediolateral dimension from core, to belt, to parabelt. In the caudorostral dimension, stepwise serial projections convey information through the primary, rostral, and rostrotemporal (AI, R, and RT) core areas on the supratemporal plane, continuing to the rostrotemporal polar area (RTp) and adjacent auditory-related areas of the rostral superior temporal gyrus (STGr) and temporal pole. In addition to this cascade of corticocortical connections, the auditory cortex receives parallel thalamocortical projections from the medial geniculate nucleus (MGN). Previous studies have examined the projections from MGN to auditory cortex, but most have focused on the caudal core areas AI and R. In this study, we investigated the full extent of connections between MGN and AI, R, RT, RTp, and STGr using retrograde and anterograde anatomical tracers. Both AI and R received nearly 90% of their thalamic inputs from the ventral subdivision of the MGN (MGv; the primary/lemniscal auditory pathway). By contrast, RT received only 45% from MGv, and an equal share from the dorsal subdivision (MGd). Area RTp received 25% of its inputs from MGv, but received additional inputs from multisensory areas outside the MGN (30% in RTp vs. 1-5% in core areas). The MGN input to RTp distinguished this rostral extension of auditory cortex from the adjacent auditory-related cortex of the STGr, which received 80% of its thalamic input from multisensory nuclei (primarily medial pulvinar). Anterograde tracers identified complementary descending connections by which highly processed auditory information may modulate thalamocortical inputs.