Cytoarchitecture and neural afferents of orbitofrontal cortex in the brain of the monkey

R. J. Morecraft, C. Geula, M. ‐M Mesulam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

442 Scopus citations


The orbitofrontal cortex of the monkey can be subdivided into a caudal agranular sector, a transitional dysgranular sector, and an anterior granular sector. The neural input into these sectors was investigated with the help of large horseradish peroxidase injections that covered the different sectors of orbitofrontal cortex. The distribution of retrograde labeling showed that the majority of the cortical projections to orbitofrontal cortex arises from a restricted set of telencephalic sources, which include prefrontal cortex, lateral, and inferomedial temporal cortex, the temporal pole, cingulate gyrus, insula, entorhinal cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, and claustrum. The posterior portion of the orbitofrontal cortex receives additional input from the piriform cortex and the anterolateral portion from gustatory, somatosensory, and premotor areas. Thalamic projections to the orbitofrontal cortex arise from midline and intralaminar nuclei, from the anteromedial nucleus, the medial dorsal nucleus, and the pulvinar nucleus. Orbitofrontal cortex also receives projections from the hypothalamus, nucleus basalis, ventral tegmental area, the raphe nuclei, the nucleus locus coeruleus, and scattered neurons of the pontomesencephalic tegmentum. The non‐isocortical (agranular‐dysgranular) sectors of orbitofrontal cortex receive more intense projections from the non‐isocortical sectors of paralimbic areas, the hippocampus, amygdala, and midline thalamic nuclei, whereas the isocortical (granular) sector receives more intense projections from the dorsolateral prefrontal area, the granular insula, granular temporopolar cortex, posterolateral temporal cortex, and from the medial dorsal and pulvinar thalamic nuclei. Retrograde labeling within cingulate, entorhinal, and hippocampal cortices was most pronounced when the injection site extended medially into the dysgranular paraolfactory cortex of the gyrus rectus, an area that can be conceptualized as an orbitofrontal extension of the cingulate complex. These observations demonstrate that the orbitofrontal cortex has cytoarchitectonically organized projections and that it provides a convergence zone for afferents from heteromodal association and limbic areas. The diverse connections of orbitofrontal cortex are in keeping with the participation of this region in visceral, gustatory, and olfactory functions and with its importance in memory, motivation, and epileptogenesis. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-358
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 15 1992


  • connectivity
  • cytoarchitectonics
  • horseradish peroxidase
  • paralimbic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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