Visual and somesthetic cues are used for spatial processing in the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) of the mammalian brain. In rats, somatic information collected by the mystacial whiskers is critically involved in constructing a neural representation of the external space. Here, we delineated the topography of the cortical pathway from the primary somatosensory cortex (SI) that may deliver vibrissal cues to PPC for spatial processing. For anterograde tracing, we made small injections of biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) into SI barrel cortex. The injections in the regions directly above the septal compartments produced dense terminals in PPC, whereas injections above the center of the barrels resulted in sparse terminals. For retrograde tracing, we made large injections of cholera toxin subunit B (CtB) in PPC. Retrogradely labeled neurons within SI barrel cortex formed multiple, parallel strips. In layer IV, these strips of labeled neurons were confined within the septal rows, extending from barrel arc position 0 to 5. In the extragranular layers, labeled neurons were clustered primarily within the vertical extensions of the septal rows and extended to the edges of neighboring barrel columns. Based on these findings, in which SI projections to PPC arise mainly from the septal columns, we hypothesize that septal columns may form interconnected cortical networks that engage in spatial information processing contingent on somestheic cues.
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