In the present study we reevaluated the parcellation scheme of the macaque frontal agranular cortex by implementing quantitative cytoarchitectonic and multireceptor analyses, with the purpose to integrate and reconcile the discrepancies between previously published maps of this region. We applied an observer-independent and statistically testable approach to determine the position of cytoarchitectonic borders. Analysis of the regional and laminar distribution patterns of 13 different transmitter receptors confirmed the position of cytoarchitectonically identified borders. Receptor densities were extracted from each area and visualized as its "receptor fingerprint". Hierarchical and principal components analyses were conducted to detect clusters of areas according to the degree of (dis)similarity of their fingerprints. Finally, functional connectivity pattern of each identified area was analyzed with areas of prefrontal, cingulate, somatosensory and lateral parietal cortex and the results were depicted as "connectivity fingerprints" and seed-to-vertex connectivity maps. We identified 16 cyto- and receptor architectonically distinct areas, including novel subdivisions of the primary motor area 4 (i.e. 4a, 4p, 4m) and of premotor areas F4 (i.e. F4s, F4d, F4v), F5 (i.e. F5s, F5d, F5v) and F7 (i.e. F7d, F7i, F7s). Multivariate analyses of receptor fingerprints revealed three clusters, which first segregated the subdivisions of area 4 with F4d and F4s from the remaining premotor areas, then separated ventrolateral from dorsolateral and medial premotor areas. The functional connectivity analysis revealed that medial and dorsolateral premotor and motor areas show stronger functional connectivity with areas involved in visual processing, whereas 4p and ventrolateral premotor areas presented a stronger functional connectivity with areas involved in somatomotor responses. For the first time, we provide a 3D atlas integrating cyto- and multi-receptor architectonic features of the macaque motor and premotor cortex. This atlas constitutes a valuable resource for the analysis of functional experiments carried out with non-human primates, for modeling approaches with realistic synaptic dynamics, as well as to provide insights into how brain functions have developed by changes in the underlying microstructure and encoding strategies during evolution.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience