Interhemispheric connections of the somatosensory cortex in the rabbit


Corpus callosal connections of somatosensory cortex were studied in rabbits by combining anatomical tracing and electrophysiological mapping in the same animals. The results show that callosal connections are unevenly distributed in SI and SII. In SI, the representations of all body surfaces caudal to the neck and midline structures of the head have dense callosal connections. Conversely, connections are sparse to absent within representations of laterally positioned surfaces of the head, such as the sinus hairs, vibrissae, and nonmidline portions of the lips. Almost all of SII has dense callosal connections; only the representations of the vibrissae and sinus hairs have moderate callosal connections. The laminar distribution of callosal connections in rabbit SI and SII is similar to that observed in other mammals. Callosal terminations extend from the inner portion of layer I to the outer portion of layer VI, are moderately denser in the supragranular layers, and are sparse in layer IV. Callosally projecting cells are found predominantly in layers II, III, and V and are sparse in layers IV and VI. These data further emphasize the direct correspondence between the pattern of callosal connections in SI and the functional importance of particular body surfaces. Hence, representations of body surfaces important in the exploration of the environment are relatively free of callosal connections, whereas representations of midline and more lateral surfaces, less significant in tactile exploration, receive dense callosal connections. Callosal connections in rabbits are distributed extensively throughout responsive koniocortical regions rather than being relegated to distinct, specialized regions of “unresponsive” dysgranular cortex as in rodents. Copyright © 1987 Alan R. Liss, Inc.

Publication Title

Journal of Comparative Neurology