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The Thalamocortical Projection Systems in Primate: An Anatomical Support for Multisensory and Sensorimotor Interplay

Cerebral Cortex
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhn228
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Multisensory and sensorimotor integrations are usually considered to occur in superior colliculus and cerebral cortex, but few studies proposed the thalamus as being involved in these integrative processes. We investigated whether the organization of the thalamocortical (TC) systems for different modalities partly overlap, representing an anatomical support for multisensory and sensorimotor interplay in thalamus. In 2 macaque monkeys, 6 neuroanatomical tracers were injected in the rostral and caudal auditory cortex, posterior parietal cortex (PE/PEa in area 5), and dorsal and ventral premotor cortical areas (PMd, PMv), demonstrating the existence of overlapping territories of thalamic projections to areas of different modalities (sensory and motor). TC projections, distinct from the ones arising from specific unimodal sensory nuclei, were observed from motor thalamus to PE/PEa or auditory cortex and from sensory thalamus to PMd/PMv. The central lateral nucleus and the mediodorsal nucleus project to all injected areas, but the most significant overlap across modalities was found in the medial pulvinar nucleus. The present results demonstrate the presence of thalamic territories integrating different sensory modalities with motor attributes. Based on the divergent/convergent pattern of TC and corticothalamic projections, 4 distinct mechanisms of multisensory and sensorimotor interplay are proposed.

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