Neurochemical, morphologic, and laminar characterization of cortical projection neurons in the cingulate motor areas of the macaque monkey

Esther A. Nimchinsky, Patrick R. Hof, Warren G. Young, John Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


The primate cingulate gyrus contains multiple cortical areas that can be distinguished by several neurochemical features, including the distribution of neurofilament protein-enriched pyramidal neurons. In addition, connectivity and functional properties indicate that there are multiple motor areas in the cortex lining the cingulate sulcus. These motor areas were targeted for analysis of potential interactions among regional specialization, connectivity, and cellular characteristics such as neurochemical profile and morphology. Specifically, intracortical injections of retrogradely transported dyes and intracellular injection were combined with immunocytochemistry to investigate neurons projecting from the cingulate motor areas to the putative forelimb region of the primary motor cortex, area M1. Two separate groups of neurons projecting to area M1 emanated from the cingulate sulcus, one anterior and one posterior, both of which furnished commissural and ipsilateral connections with area M1. The primary difference between the two populations was laminar origin, with the anterior projection originating largely in deep layers, and the posterior projection taking origin equally in superficial and deep layers. With regard to cellular morphology, the anterior projection exhibited more morphologic diversity than the posterior projection. Commissural projections from both anterior and posterior fields originated largely in layer VI. Neurofilament protein distribution was a reliable tool for localizing the two projections and for discriminating between them. Comparable proportions of the two sets of projection neurons contained neurofilament protein, although the density and distribution of the total population of neurofilament protein-enriched neurons was very different in the two subareas of origin. Within a projection, the participating neurons exhibited a high degree of morphologic heterogeneity, and no correlation was observed between somatodendritic morphology and neurofilament protein content. Thus, although the neurons that provide the anterior and posterior cingulate motor projections to area M1 differ morphologically and in laminar origin, their neurochemical profiles are similar with respect to neurofilament protein. This suggests that neurochemical phenotype may be a more important unifying feature for corticocortical projections than morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-160
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 7 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • corticocortical connections
  • neurofilament protein
  • primate neocortex
  • pyramidal neuron
  • quantitative neuroanatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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