Patterns of intrinsic and associational circuitry in monkey prefrontal cortex

Michele L. Pucak, Jonathan B. Levitt, Jennifer S. Lund, David A. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Both local and long-range connections are critical mediators of information processing in the cerebral cortex, but little is known about the relationships among these types of connections, especially in higher-order cortical regions. We used quantitative reconstructions of the label arising from discrete (approximately 350 μm diameter) injections of biotinylated dextran amine and cholera toxin B to determine the spatial organization of the axon collaterals and principal axon projections furnished by pyramidal neurons in the supragranular layers of monkey prefrontal cortex (areas 9 and 46). Both terminals and cell bodies labeled by transport along axon collaterals in the gray matter formed intrinsic clusters which were arrayed as a series of discontinuous stripes of similar size and shape. The co- registration of anterograde and retrograde transport confirmed that these convergent and divergent intrinsic connections also were reciprocal. Transport from the same injection sites along principal axons through the white matter formed associational clusters which were also arrayed as a series of discontinuous stripes. The dimensions of the anterogradely- and retrogradely-labeled associational stripes were very similar to each other and to the intrinsic stripes. These findings demonstrate that divergence, convergence, and reciprocity characterize both the intrinsic and associational excitatory connections in the prefrontal cortex. These patterns of connections provide an anatomical substrate by which activation of a discrete group of neurons would lead to the recruitment of a specific neuronal network comprised of both local and distant groups of cells. Furthermore, the consistent size of the intrinsic and associational stripes (approximately 275 by 1,800 μm) suggests that they may represent basic functional units in the primate prefrontal cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-630
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Macaque monkey
  • axon collateral
  • local circuit neuron
  • pyramidal neuron
  • reciprocal connections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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