Neurofilament protein is differentially distributed in subpopulations of corticocortical projection neurons in the macaque monkey visual pathways

Patrick R. Hof, Leslie G. Ungerleider, Maree J. Webster, Ricardo Gattass, Michelle M. Adams, Cynthia A. Sailstad, John Morrison

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Previous studies of the primate cerebral cortex have shown that neurofilament protein is present in pyramidal neuron subpopulations displaying specific regional and laminar distribution patterns. In order to characterize further the neurochemical phenotype of the neurons furnishing feedforward and feedback pathways in the visual cortex of the macaque monkey, we performed an analysis of the distribution of neurofilament protein in corticocortical projection neurons in areas V1, V2, V3, V3A, V4, and MT. Injections of the retrogradely transported dyes Fast Blue and Diamidino Yellow were placed within areas V4 and MT, or in areas V1 and V2, in 14 adult rhesus monkeys, and the brains of these animals were processed for immunohistochemistry with an antibody to nonphosphorylated epitopes of the medium and heavy molecular weight subunits of the neurofilament protein. Overall, there was a higher proportion of neurons projecting from areas V1, V2, V3, and V3A to area MT that were neurofilament protein-immunoreactive (57-100%), than to area V4 (25-36%). In contrast, feedback projections from areas MT, V4, and V3 exhibited a more consistent proportion of neurofilament protein-containing neurons (70-80%), regardless of their target areas (V1 or V2). In addition, the vast majority of feedback neurons projecting to areas V1 and V2 were located in layers V and VI in areas V4 and MT, while they were observed in both supragranular and infragranular layers in area V3. The laminar distribution of feedforward projecting neurons was heterogeneous. In area V1, Meynert and layer IVB cells were found to project to area MT, while neurons projecting to area V4 were particularly dense in layer III within the foveal representation. In area V2, almost all neurons projecting to areas MT or V4 were located in layer III, whereas they were found in both layers II- III and V-VI in areas V3 and V3A. These results suggest that neurofilament protein identifies particular subpopulations of corticocortically projecting neurons with distinct regional and laminar distribution in the monkey visual system. It is possible that the preferential distribution of neurofilament protein within feedforward connections to area MT and all feedback projections is related to other distinctive properties of these corticocortical projection neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-127
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • corticocortical projections
  • cytoskeleton
  • feedforward and feedback projections
  • occipitoparietal and occipitotemporal pathways
  • primate visual system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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