Spinothalamocortical projections to the secondary somatosensory cortex (SII) in squirrel monkey

Richard T. Stevens*, Susan M. London, A. Vania Apkarian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Anterograde labeling of the cervical spinothalamic tract was combined with retrograde labeling of thalamocortical cells projecting to the hand region of the second somatosensory cortex (hSII) to identify likely sites in the thalamus for processing and transmitting nociceptive information to hSII. Anterograde labeling of terminals was done with 2% WGA-HRP injections in the cervical enlargement; thalamocortical cells were retrogradely labeled with fluorescent tracers. In one experiment, the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex hand region (hSI) was injected to provide a direct comparison with hSII thalamic label. Both labeled cells and terminal-like structures were visualized in single thalamic sections and their numbers and positions quantitatively analyzed. The number of labeled cells within 100 microns from the STT terminals were counted as overlapping cells. Four thalamic nuclei, ventroposterior inferior (VPI), ventroposterior lateral (VPL), posterior nucleus (PO) and centrolateral nucleus (CL) combined to contain 86.5% of all hSII-projecting overlapping cells. Of all hSII-projecting thalamic overlapping cells, VPI contained the largest number (36.4% of the total) followed by the anterior portion of the posterior nuclear complex (POa; 20.4%), VPL (18.3%) and CL (11.4%). Results of the hSI injection show a different pattern of overlap in agreement with our earlier study. The relative distribution of overlapping cells was dependent on the antero-posterior position of the SII injections. The most anterior injections resulted in small numbers of labeled cells, with the majority of overlapping cells located in PO and CL. The more posterior injections resulted in overlapping cells mainly in VPI and VPL. The results indicate that, in the squirrel monkey, VPI, VPL, POa and CL relay nociceptive information from the spinal cord to the second somatosensory cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-246
Number of pages6
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 24 1993


  • Ascending projection
  • Nociceptive
  • Pain
  • Spinal cord
  • Thalamocortical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Spinothalamocortical projections to the secondary somatosensory cortex (SII) in squirrel monkey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this