Elena Borra, Marzio Gerbella, Stefano Rozzi, and Giuseppe Luppino
J. Neurosci. 2011;31 12351-12363
The macaque ventrolateral prefrontal (VLPF) area 12r is thought to be involved in higher-order nonspatial information processing. We found that this area is connectionally heterogeneous, and the intermediate part is fully integrated in a cortical network involved in selecting and controlling object-oriented hand and mouth actions. Specifically, intermediate area 12r displayed dense connections with the caudal half of area 46v and orbitofrontal areas and relatively strong extraprefrontal connections involving the following: (1) the hand- and mouth-related ventral premotor area F5 and the anterior intraparietal (AIP) area, jointly involved in visuomotor transformations for grasping; (2) the SII sector that is connected to AIP and F5; (3) a sector of the inferotemporal area TEa/m, primarily corresponding to the sector densely connected to AIP; and (4) the insular and opercular frontal sectors, which are connected to AIP and F5. This connectivity pattern differed markedly from those of the caudal and rostral parts of area 12r. Caudal area 12r displayed dense connections with the caudal part of the VLPF, including oculomotor areas 8/FEF and 45B, relatively weak orbitofrontal connections and extraprefrontal connections limited to the inferotemporal cortex. Rostral area 12r displayed connections mostly with rostral prefrontal and orbitofrontal areas and relatively weaker connections with the fundus and the upper bank of the superior temporal sulcus. The present data suggest that the intermediate part of area 12r is involved in nonspatial information processing related to object properties and identity, for selecting and controlling goal-directed hand and mouth actions.