Areal and synaptic interconnectivity of prelimbic (area 32), infralimbic (area 25) and insular cortices in the rat

Gabbott, Paul L.A.; Warner, Tracy A.; Jays, Paul R.L. and Bacon, Sarah J. (2003). Areal and synaptic interconnectivity of prelimbic (area 32), infralimbic (area 25) and insular cortices in the rat. Brain Research, 993(1-2) pp. 59–71.




This study investigated the interconnectivity of areas in the medial prefrontal and insular cortices in the rat. The areas studied were the prelimbic (PL, area 32) and infralimbic (IL, area 25) cortices and the dorsal anterior agranular insular (AId) and regions of posterior insular cortex (PI-comprising the agranular, dysgranular and granular fields). Following injections of the anterograde tracer biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) into layers 2-5 of each area, labelled axonal varicosities were found ipsilaterally in the other cortical areas. The most prominently labelled pathways were PL-->AId, AId-->PL, IL-->AId/PI, and PI-->IL. Qualitative and quantitative examinations of the laminar distribution of labelled axonal varicosities in the terminal fields indicated the existence of topographically organised 'feed-forward' (insular to PL/IL) and 'feed-back' (PL/IL to insular) pathways. The identity of the post-synaptic targets innervated by the PL/IL to AId pathways were investigated ultrastructurally. An analysis of 250 anterogradely labelled synaptic boutons (taken from layers 2/3) indicated that spine heads (presumed to originate from pyramidal cells) were the principal (88-93%) targets; all identified synaptic junctions were asymmetric. The results define an interconnected network of reciprocal pathways between cortical areas processing general and specific 'viscerosensory' information (AId and PI) and medial areas involved in cognitive (PL) and visceromotor (IL) functions. The data provide important aspects of the cortical circuitry underlying the integration of cognitive and emotional processing mechanisms, not only in rats, but also in primates.

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