Journal article Open Access

Cortical connections of visual area MT in the macaque

Ungerleider, Leslie G.; Desimone, Robert

We have identified the cortical connections of area MT and determined their topographic organization and relationship to myeloarchitectural fields. Efferents of MT were examined in seven macaques that had received injections of tritiated amino acids, and afferents were examined in one macaque that had received injections of two fluorescent dyes. The injection sites formed an orderly sequence from the representation of central to that of peripheral vision in the upper and lower visual fields. In addition to connections with the striate cortex (V1), connections were found between MT and a variety of extrastriate areas, including V2, V3, V3A, V4, V4t, VIP, MST, FST, possibly PO, and, finally, the frontal eye field. The connections of MT with V1, V2, and the dorsal and ventral portions of V3 were topographically organized and consistent with the visuotopic arrangement reported previously in these areas. V2 could be distinguished from V3 by the distinctive myeloarchitectural appearance of the former. Connections with areas V4 and V4t also displayed at least a coarse visuotopic organization, in that the central representation of MT projected laterally in these areas and the peripheral representation projected medially. The lower visual field representation of V4 was located dorsally, on the prelunate convexity, while the upper field representation was located primarily on the ventral aspect of the hemisphere. V4t had a distinctively light myeloarchitecture and received projections from only the lower field representation of MT. The remaining connections of MT were with areas located entirely in the dorsal half of the hemisphere. There were widespread connections with areas MST and FST in the superior temporal sulcus, with some evidence for a crude visuotopic organization in MST. Connections were also found with area VIP in the intraparietal sulcus, with area V3A on the annectent gyrus, possibly with area PO in the dorsomedial prestriate cortex, and, finally, with the frontal eye field on the anterior bank of the lower limb of the arcuate sulcus. Area FST and parts of both MST and VIP had a distinctive myeloarchitecture. The pattern of laminar connections with V1, V2, and V3 indicated that MT projects "back" to these areas and they project "forward" to MT. That is, the projections to these areas from MT terminated in both the supragranular and infragranular layers and the projections to MT from these areas originated predominantly from cells located above granular layer IV (above layer IVC in V1). The pattern of laminar connections with V3A, V4, V4t, and PO was of the "intermediate" type in that the projections from MT to these areas were spread almost evenly across the layers, including layer IV, and the projections to MT originated (in the case of area V4) from cells in both the infragranular and supragranular layers. Finally, the pattern of laminar connections with MST, FST, and VIP indicated that MT projects "forward" to these areas and they project "back" to MT. That is, the projections from MT terminated heavily in layer IV in these areas and the projections from these areas to MT originated primarily from cells in the infragranular layers. The connections of MT indicate that this area plays a major role in the relay of visual information from the striate cortex into the parietal lobe.

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