A survey of oral cavity afferents to the rat nucleus tractus solitarii

James Corson, Alexandra Aldridge, Kristin Wilmoth, Alev Erisir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Visualization of myelinated fiber arrangements, cytoarchitecture, and projection fields of afferent fibers in tandem revealed input target selectivity in identified subdivisions of the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS). The central fibers of the chorda tympani (CT), greater superficial petrosal nerve (GSP), and glossopharyngeal nerve (IX), three nerves that innervate taste buds in the oral cavity, prominently occupy the gustatory-sensitive rostrocentral subdivision. In addition, CT and IX innervate and overlap in the rostrolateral subdivision, which is primarily targeted by the lingual branch of the trigeminal nerve (LV). In the rostrocentral subdivision, compared with the CT terminal field, GSP appeared more rostral and medial, and IX was more dorsal and caudal. Whereas IX and LV filled the rostrolateral subdivision diffusely, CT projected only to the dorsal and medial portions. The intermediate lateral subdivision received input from IX and LV but not CT or GSP. In the caudal NTS, the ventrolateral subdivision received notable innervation from CT, GSP, and LV, but not IX. No caudal subnuclei medial to the solitary tract contained labeled afferent fibers. The data indicate selectivity of fiber populations within each nerve for functionally distinct subdivisions of the NTS, highlighting the possibility of equally distinct functions for CT in the rostrolateral NTS, and CT and GSP in the caudal NTS. Further, this provides a useful anatomical template to study the role of oral cavity afferents in the taste-responsive subdivision of the NTS as well as in subdivisions that regulate ingestion and other oromotor behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-527
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 15 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Chorda tympani
  • Glossopharyngeal
  • Greater superficial petrosal
  • Gustatory
  • Subdivision
  • Taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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