Gradients of receptor expression in the macaque cortex


Dynamics and functions of neural circuits depend on synaptic interactions mediated by receptors. Therefore, a comprehensive map of receptor organization is needed to understand how different functions may emerge across distinct cortical regions. Here we use in-vitro receptor autoradiography to measure the density of 14 neurotransmitter receptor types in 109 areas of macaque cortex. We integrate the receptor data with other anatomical, genetic and functional connectivity data into a common cortical space. We uncovered a principal gradient of increasing receptor expression per neuron aligned with cortical hierarchy from early sensory cortex to higher cognitive areas. A second gradient, primarily driven by 5-HT1A receptors, peaks in the anterior and subcallosal cingulate, suggesting that the macaque may be a promising animal model for major depressive disorder. The receptor gradients may enable rapid, reliable information processing in sensory cortical areas and slow, flexible integration of information in higher cognitive areas.