Organization of long-range inputs and outputs of frontal cortex for top-down control


Zhang S*, Xu M*, et al.  Nature Neuroscience, 2016



Long-range projections from the frontal cortex are known to modulate sensory processing in multiple modalities. Although the mouse has become an increasingly important animal model for studying the circuit basis of behavior, the functional organization of its frontal cortical long-range connectivity remains poorly characterized. Here we used virus-assisted circuit mapping to identify the brain networks for top-down modulation of visual, somatosensory and auditory processing. The visual cortex is reciprocally connected to the anterior cingulate area, whereas the somatosensory and auditory cortices are connected to the primary and secondary motor cortices. Anterograde and retrograde tracing identified the cortical and subcortical structures belonging to each network. Furthermore, using new viral techniques to target subpopulations of frontal neurons projecting to the visual cortex versus the superior colliculus, we identified two distinct subnetworks within the visual network. These findings provide an anatomical foundation for understanding the brain mechanisms underlying top-down control of behavior.