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J Comp Neurol. 1985 Dec 8;242(2):263-74.

Innervation of cat visual areas 17 and 18 by physiologically identified X- and Y- type thalamic afferents. I. Arborization patterns and quantitative distribution of postsynaptic elements.


Specific thalamic afferents to visual areas 17 and 18 were physiologically classified as X or Y type and injected with horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The axons were examined under the light microscope and were then processed for correlated electron microscopy. X axons arborized in area 17 and in the border between area 17 and 18. The X axons all formed terminals throughout layer 6, but were heterogeneous in their distribution in layer 4. They either occupied the entire width of sublayers 4A and 4B or were strongly biased toward layer 4A. Y axons also arborized in layers 4 and 6, but in area 17 they did not form boutons in sublamina 4B. Some Y axons projected only to area 18; others branched and arborized in both areas 17 and 18. Only the collaterals of one X axons were found to enter area 18; all the others were restricted to area 17. Y axons formed three to four separate patches of boutons about 300-400 microns in diameter, while all but one X axon formed a single elongated patch. Y axons had thicker main branches (3-4 microns) than X axons (1.5-2.5 microns) at their point of entry to the cortex. The main axon trunks and their medium-calibre collaterals were myelinated, but the preterminal segments were unmyelinated and studded with boutons. Each X or Y axon contacted about seven to ten somata, but Y axons made more contacts per soma (three to six) than did X axons (two to three). In addition to somatic synapses, both X and Y axons formed asymmetric (type 1) synapses on dendritic spines and shafts, with spines forming the most frequent targets (80%). Each Y bouton made, on average, 1.64 synapses in area 17 and 1.79 synapses in area 18, whereas each X bouton made only 1.27 synapses on average. Although there are proportionally fewer Y axons than X axons entering area 17, the Y axons provide as many synapses as the X axons because of their larger arbors and multisynaptic boutons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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