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J Comp Neurol. 2001 Aug 27;437(3):259-85.

Axonal topography of cortical basket cells in relation to orientation, direction, and ocular dominance maps.

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Institut für Physiologie, Abteilung für Neurophysiologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44801 Bochum, Germany.


The axonal (bouton) distributions of a layer 4 clutch cell (CC), two layer 3 medium-sized basket cells (MBC), and a layer 3 large basket cell (LBC) to orientation, direction, and ocular dominance maps were studied quantitatively. 1) The CC provided exclusively local projections (<380 microm from the soma) and contacted a narrow "niche" of functional representations. 2) The two MBCs emitted local projections (75% and 79% of all boutons), which were engaged with isoorientations (61% and 48%) and isodirections, and long-range projections (25% and 21%, >313 microm and >418 microm), which encountered cross-orientation sites (14% and 12%) and isoorientation sites (7% and 5%). Their direction preferences were mainly perpendicular to or opposite those of local projections. 3) The LBC provided the majority (60%) of its boutons to long-range distances (>437 microm). Locally, LBC boutons showed a rather balanced contribution to isoorientations (19%) and cross-orientations (12%) and preferred isodirections. Remotely, however, cross-orientation sites were preferred (31% vs. 23%) and the directional output was balanced. 4) Monte Carlo simulations revealed that the differences between the orientation specificity of local and long-range projections cannot be explained by a homogeneous lateral distribution of the boutons. 5) There was a similar eye preference in the local and long-range projection fields of the MBCs. The LBC contacted both contra- and ipsilateral eye domains. 6) The basket axons showed little laminar difference in orientation and direction topography. The results suggest that an individual basket cell can mediate a wide range of effects depending on the size and termination pattern of the axonal field.

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