How do cortico-striatal projections impact on downstream pallidal circuitry?

Sarah R. Heilbronner, Mariah A.A. Meyer, Eun Young Choi, Suzanne N. Haber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The frontal cortico-basal ganglia network plays a central role in action selection, associative learning, and motivation, processes requiring the integration of information from functionally distinct cortical regions. The cortico-striatal projection is a likely substrate of information integration, as terminal fields from different cortical regions converge in the striatum. These intersecting projections form complex zones of unique cortical inputs. Here, our goal was to follow these projection zones downstream in the basal ganglia to the globus pallidus. We combined a sizable database of 3D models of striato-pallidal chartings in macaques with maps of frontal cortical inputs to determine the topography of the striato-pallidal projection and the indirect cortical influence over the pallidum. We found that the striato-pallidal projection is highly topographic, with the location of the striatal injection site strongly predicting the location of the resulting pallidal terminal fields. Furthermore, striato-pallidal projections are specific and largely nonoverlapping. Thus, striatal hubs receiving unique combinations of cortical inputs have distinct projections to the pallidum. However, because of the strong convergence of cortical terminal fields in the striatum, the indirect pallidal representation of any given frontal cortical region remains broad. We illustrate this arrangement by contrasting the pallidal projections from two nearby striatal cases: one a putative hub for cortical attentional bias signals, and the other with a different, more ventral set of cortical inputs. Thus, the striato-pallidal projection faithfully conveys unique combinations of cortical inputs to different locations within the pallidum via the striatum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2809-2821
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Basal ganglia
  • Globus pallidus
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Striatum


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