Anatomical findings are presented that identify cortical and subcortical sources of afferents to the nucleus reticularis tegmenti pontis (NRTP) and basal pontine nuclei. Projections from the middle temporal visual area (MT), medial superior temporal visual area (MST), lateral intraparietal area (LIP), and areas 7a and 7b to the basal pontine nuclei were studied using 3H-leucine autoradiography. The results complemented a parallel study of retrograde neuronal labeling attributable to injecting WGA-HRP into NRTP and neighboring pontine nuclei. Small 3H-leucine injections confined to MT, MST, LIP, area 7a, or area 7b, produced multiple patches of pontine terminal label distributed as follows: (1) An injection within MT produced terminal label limited to the dorsolateral and lateral pontine nuclei. (2) Injections restricted to MST or LIP showed patches of terminal label in the dorsal, dorsolateral, lateral, and peduncular pontine nuclei. (3) Area 7a targets the dorsal, dorsolateral, lateral, peduncular, and ventral pontine nuclei, whereas area 7b projects, additionally, to the dorsomedial and paramedian pontine nuclei. Notably, no projections were seen to NRTP from any of these cortical areas. In contrast, injections made by other investigators into cortical areas anterior to the central sulcus revealed cerebrocortical afferents to NRTP, in addition to nuclei of the basal pontine gray. With our pontine WGA-HRP injections, retrograde neuronal labeling was observed over a large extent of the frontal cortex continuing onto the medial surface which included the lining of the cingulate sulcus and cingulate gyrus. Significant subcortical sources for afferents to the NRTP and basal pontine nuclei were the zona incerta, ventral mesencephalic tegmentum, dorsomedial hypothalamic area, rostral interstitial nucleus of the medial longitudinal fasciculus, red nucleus, and subthalamic nucleus. The combined anterograde and retrograde labeling data indicated that visuo-motor cortico-pontine pathways arising from parietal cortices target only the basal pontine gray, whereas the NRTP, together with select pontine nuclei, is a recipient of afferents from frontal cortical areas. The present findings implicate the existence of parallel direct and indirect cortico-pontine pathways from frontal motor-related cortices to NRTP and neighboring pontine nuclei.
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