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Connections of auditory and visual cortex in the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster): evidence for multisensory processing in primary sensory areas.

  • Author(s): Campi, Katharine L;
  • Bales, Karen L;
  • Grunewald, Rebecca;
  • Krubitzer, Leah
  • et al.

In prairie voles, primary sensory areas are dominated by neurons that respond to one sensory modality, but some neurons also respond to stimulation of other modalities. To reveal the anatomical substrate for these multimodal responses, we examined the connections of the primary auditory area + the anterior auditory field (A1 + AAF), the temporal anterior area (TA), and the primary visual area (V1). A1 + AAF had intrinsic connections and connections with TA, multimodal cortex (MM), V1, and primary somatosensory area (S1). TA had intrinsic connections and connections with A1 + AAF, MM, and V2. Callosal connections were observed in homotopic locations in auditory cortex for both fields. A1 + AAF and TA receive thalamic input primarily from divisions of the medial geniculate nucleus but also from the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGd), the lateral posterior nucleus, and the ventral posterior nucleus (VP). V1 had dense intrinsic connections and connections with V2, MM, auditory cortex, pyriform cortex (Pyr), and, in some cases, somatosensory cortex. V1 had interhemispheric connections with V1, V2, MM, S1, and Pyr and received thalamic input from LGd and VP. Our results indicate that multisensory integration occurs in primary sensory areas of the prairie vole cortex, and this may be related to behavioral specializations associated with its niche.

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