Pyramidal cells, patches, and cortical columns: a comparative study of infragranular neurons in TEO, TE, and the superior temporal polysensory area of the macaque monkey.

G. N. Elston, M. G. Rosa

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The basal dendritic arbors of layer III pyramidal neurons are known to vary systematically among primate visual areas. Generally, those in areas associated with "higher" level cortical processing have larger and more spinous dendritic arbors, which may be an important factor for determining function within these areas. Moreover, the tangential area of their arbors are proportional to those of the periodic supragranular patches of intrinsic connections in many different areas. The morphological parameters of both dendritic and axon arbors may be important for the sampling strategies of cells in different cortical areas. However, in visual cortex, intrinsic patches are a feature of supragranular cortex, and are weaker or nonexistent in infragranular cortex. Thus, the systematic variation in the dendritic arbors of pyramidal cells in supragranular cortex may reflect intrinsic axon projections, rather than differences in columnar organization. The present study was aimed at establishing whether cells in the infragranular layers also vary in terms of dendritic morphology among different cortical areas, and whether these variations mirror the ones demonstrated in supragranular cortex. Layer V pyramidal neurons were injected with Lucifer yellow in flat-mounted cortical slices taken from cytoarchitectonic areas TEO and TE and the superior polysensory area (STP) of the macaque monkey. The results demonstrate that cells in STP were larger, had more bifurcations, and were more spinous than those in TE, which in turn were larger, had more bifurcations and were more spinous than those in TEO. These results parallel morphological variation seen in layer III pyramidal neurons, suggesting that increasing complexity of basal dendritic arbors of cells, with progression through higher areas of the temporal lobe, is a general organizational principle. It is proposed that the differences in microcircuitry may contribute to the determination of the functional signatures of neurons in different cortical areas. Furthermore, these results provide evidence that intrinsic circuitry differs across cortical areas, which may be important for theories of columnar processing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

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