An autoradiographic examination of the central distribution of the trigeminal, facial, glossopharyngeal, and vagal nerves in the monkey

Robert M. Beckstead, Ralph Norgren

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The central distributions of primary afferent axons in cranial nerves V, VII, IX, and X have been re‐examined autoradiographically after 3H‐proline injections into their peripheral ganglia. Fiber‐labeling after subtotal injections of the trigeminal ganglion, besides confirming earlier classical descriptions, suggests that trigeminal fibers of the ophthalmic and mandibular (but not maxillary) branches enter the ventrolateral part of the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST). Injection of VII's geniculate ganglion labels fibers which both ascend and descend upon reaching NST. The ascending fibers distribute in a compact and circumscribed zone immediately dorsal to the spinal V nucleus as far rostral as the caudal pole of the principal trigeminal nucleus. The descending fibers distribute to the lateral NST rostral to the level at which X joins the solitary tract. For a short distance caudal to this level, sparse label is confined to a small part of lateral NST ventral to the solitary tract, which corresponds to the zone receiving direct trigeminal afferents. Fiber‐labeling after injections of the ganglia of nerves IX and X suggest the following. Although, upon reaching NST, a few fibers of either IX or X ascend as far rostrally as had those of VII, both have a much larger descending component which distributes to more caudal levels of NST. Most of IX's axons appear to end in the lateral NST; only a few travel as far as the obex. Fibers of X, on the other hand, are abundant in the medial and commissural parts of NST. Moreover, only X appears to have a crossed projection in the commissural nucleus and caudal portion of the contralateral NST. A few fibers of vagal origin also appear to enter the area postrema. Whereas fibers of X appear to constitute the solitary tract, few if any fibers of VII or IX travel within that fascicle. A significant descending components of labeled fibers appears in the spinal V tract when the superior ganglion of either IX or X is injected. These fibers distribute mainly in the pars caudalis of the spinal V nucleus and, to a lesser degree, the cuneate nucleus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-472
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 1979

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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