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Visual cortical areas in the adult mammalian brain are linked by a network of interareal feedforward and feedback circuits. We investigated the topography of feedback projections to ferret (Mustela putorius furo) area 18 from extrastriate areas 19, 21, and Ssy. Our objective was to characterize the anatomical organization of the extrastriate feedback pool to area 18. We also wished to determine if feedback projections to area 18 share similar features as feedback projections to area 17. We injected the tracer cholera toxin B subunit (CTb) into area 18 of adult ferrets to visualize the distribution and pattern of retrogradely labeled cells in extrastriate cortex. We find several similarities to the feedback projection to area 17: (i) Multiple visual cortical areas provide feedback to area 18: areas 19, 21, Ssy, and weaker inputs from posterior parietal and lateral temporal visual areas. Within each area a greater proportion of feedback projections arises from the infragranular than from the supragranular layers. (ii) The cortical area immediately rostral to area 18 provides the greatest proportion of total cortical feedback, and has the greatest peak density of cells providing feedback to area 18. (iii) The spacing (peak cell density and nearest neighbor distances) of cells in extrastriate cortex providing feedback to areas 17 and 18 are similar. However, peak density of feedback cells to area 18 is comparable in the supra- and infragranular layers, whereas peak density of feedback cells to area 17 is higher in the infragranular layers. Another prominent difference is that dorsal area 18 receives a cortical input that area 17 does not: from ventral cortex representing the upper visual field; this appears to be roughly 25% of the feedback input to area 18. Lastly, area 17 receives a greater proportion of cortical feedback from area 21 than from Ssy, whereas area 18 receives more feedback from Ssy than from area 21. While the organization of feedback projections from extrastriate cortex to areas 17 and 18 is broadly similar, the main difference in input topography might arise due to differences in visual field representations of the two areas.
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This work was originally published in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, available at https://doi.org/10.3389/fnana.2020.581478.
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