The ascending input to the midbrain periaqueductal gray of the primate

Patrick W. Mantyh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


To obtain a comprehensive map of the brainstem and spinal cord areas that project to the mesencephalic central gray small injections of hors‐radish peroxidase were made into various regions of the periaqueductal gray in a series of monkeys. Despite the fact that different regions of the central gray were injected in separate animals, the majority of the brainstem areas containing retrogradely filled neurons remained the same. Labeled neurons were observed in the superior colliculus, periaqueductal gray, lateral parabrachial, locus coeruleus, nucleus raphe magnus and pallidus, and a variety of brainstem reticular nuclei. In contrast to labeled brainstem areas, where labeled neurons were present predominantly ipsilateral to the injection site, the spinal trigeminal nucleus pars caudalis and the spinal cord displayed labeled cells chiefly on the side contralateral to the injection. Also in contrast to the labeled brainstem sites, where medial and lateral injection sites produced a similar pattern of labeling, medial injections in the PAG labeled almost exclusively neurons in the deep laminae (V‐X) in the spinal trigeminal nucleus pars caudalis and spinal cord while more lateral injections labeled neurons in both the deep (V‐X) and superficial (I) laminae. No consistent differences were noted in the location of labeled neurons in either brainstem or spinal sites after dorsal vs. ventral injections or caudal vs. rostral injection sites. The present study has demonstrated that the central gray receives afferent projections from a number of brainstem and spinal areas which are known to be involved in the modulation andor conduction of nociception, while other inputs are probably involved in the regulation of visceral functions. These data support the hypothesis that the mesencephalic periaqueductal gray functions as a visceral, nociceptive, and cognitive integrator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-64
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 10 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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