The rat claustrum: afferent and efferent connections with visual cortex.
We have examined the afferent and efferent projections between the claustrum and visual cortex in the Long-Evans rat using anterograde and retrograde axonal transport techniques. Injections of either wheat germ agglutinin/horseradish peroxidase (WGA/HRP) or Fast Blue were made into each of the main visual regions (17, 18a or 18b) as well as directly into the claustrum. The cortical injections were placed in either the upper, middle or deep layers so as to assist in determining the laminar organization of these connections. Of the 3 visual areas, only area 18b appears to have extensive and reciprocal connections with the claustrum. After a WGA/HRP injection of this area, dense labeled terminals and numerous labeled cells were found intermixed throughout the full extent of the claustrum. The density of this labeled activity was found to vary directly with the amount of the infragranular layers involved by the injections. Injections in the other visual areas did produce labeled cells in the claustrum, but their number was always small or even negligible. There was never any evidence of anterograde labeled terminals in the claustrum from any injection of areas 17 or 18a. Tracer injections directly in the claustrum confirmed and extended these findings by showing that the labeled terminals and/or labeled cells were localized predominantly in layer VI of area 18b of visual cortex. On the basis of these injections, two major conclusions are reached. First, the pattern of connections between the claustrum and visual cortex in the rat differs fundamentally with that found in other species.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)