Indexed on: 23 Jun '12Published on: 23 Jun '12Published in: The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
The function of the claustrum is a fundamental issue in neuroscience. Anatomical data indicate that the rat claustrum is part of an interhemispheric circuit that could be involved in the bilateral coordination of whisker movements. Given that whisking is a somesthetic-guided motor behavior, the goal of the current study was to elucidate the connections of the claustrum with respect to the whisker representations in the primary somatosensory (wSI) and motor (wMI) cortical areas. Anterograde tracer injections showed that wMI projects most densely to the claustrum in the contralateral hemisphere, whereas wSI does not project to the claustrum in either hemisphere. Injections of different retrograde tracers into wMI and wSI of the same animal revealed intermingled populations of labeled neurons in the claustrum, as well as many double-labeled neurons. This indicates that the same part of the claustrum projects to the whisker representations in both SI and MI. Finally, injections of different anterograde tracers in the wMI regions of both hemispheres were combined with a retrograde tracer injection in wSI, and this produced dense terminal labeling around retrogradely labeled neurons in the claustrum of both hemispheres. Although the rodent claustrum is probably involved in the interhemispheric coordination of the MI and SI whisker representations, it does not receive inputs from both of these cortical regions. Hence, the claustrum should not be universally regarded as an integrator of somesthetic and motor information.