Corticothalamic projections from layer V cells in rat are collaterals of long-range corticofugal axons
Deschenes M, Bourassa J, Pinault, D ; Brain-Res. 1994 Nov 21; 664(1-2): 215-9
The vast majority of corticothalamic (CT) axons projecting to sensory-specific thalamic nuclei arise from layer VI cells but intralaminar and associative thalamic nuclei also receive, to various degrees, a cortical input from layer V pyramidal cells. It is also well established that all long-range corticofugal projections reaching the brainstem and spinal cord arise exclusively from layer V neurons. These observations raise the possibility that the CT input from layer V cells may be collaterals of those long-range axons projecting below thalamic level. The thalamic projections of layer V cells were mapped at a single cell level following small microiontophoretic injections of biocytin performed in the motor, somatosensory and visual cortices in rats. Camera lucida reconstruction of these CT axons revealed that they are all collaterals of long-range corticofugal axons. These collaterals do not give off axonal branches within the thalamic reticular nucleus and they arborize exclusively within intralaminar and associative thalamic nuclei where they from small clusters of varicose endings. As layer V cells are involved in motor commands everywhere in the neocortex, these CT projections and their thalamic targets should be directly involved in the central organization of motor programs.
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