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Brain Behav Evol. 2007;69(3):176-95. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

Scaling of inhibitory interneurons in areas v1 and v2 of anthropoid primates as revealed by calcium-binding protein immunohistochemistry.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA.


Inhibitory GABAergic interneurons are important for shaping patterns of activity in neocortical networks. We examined the distributions of inhibitory interneuron subtypes in layer II/III of areas V1 and V2 in 18 genera of anthropoid primates including New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, and hominoids (apes and humans). Interneuron subtypes were identified by immunohistochemical staining for calbindin, calretinin, and parvalbumin and densities were quantified using the optical disector method. In both V1 and V2, calbindin-immunoreactive neuron density decreased disproportionately with decreasing total neuronal density. Thus, V1 and V2 of hominoids were occupied by a smaller percentage of calbindin-immunoreactive interneurons compared to monkeys who have greater overall neuronal densities. At the transition from V1 to V2 across all individuals, we found a tendency for increased percentages of calbindin-immunoreactive multipolar cells and calretinin-immunoreactive interneurons. In addition, parvalbumin-immunoreactive cell soma volumes increased from V1 to V2. These findings suggest that modifications of specific aspects of inhibition might be critical to establishing the receptive field properties that distinguish visual areas. Furthermore, these results show that phylogenetic variation exists in the microcircuitry of visual cortex that could have general implications for sensory processing.

Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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