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Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1984 Jun 22;221(1225):411-36.

Fine structural morphology of identified X- and Y-cells in the cat's lateral geniculate nucleus.


Four physiologically identified neurons in the A laminae of the cat's dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus were filled with horseradish peroxidase and studied using the electron microscope. Two were X-cells and two were Y-cells. Each had electrophysiological properties appropriate for its X- Or Y-cell class, and each also had an axon that projected into the optic radiation, indicative of a geniculocortical relay cell. Representative samples from about 10% of each neuron's entire dendritic arbor (proximal and distal) were taken to obtain an estimate of the types and distributions of synapses contacting these arbors. One X-cell had a cytoplasmic laminar body, but there were no other significant cytological differences seen among the neurons. Common to each of the neurons were the following synaptic features: (i) retinal terminals (r.l.p.) were mostly or entirely restricted to proximal dendrites or dendritic appendages (less than 100 microns from the soma). These terminals constituted about 15-25% of the synapses on the proximal dendrites. (ii) Terminals with flattened or pleomorphic synaptic vesicles (f. terminals) were predominant on the proximal dendrites (30-55% of the total synapses for that region) and were mainly located near the retinal terminals. A smaller percentage (10-20%) were also distributed onto the distal dendrites. (iii) Small terminals with round synaptic vesicles (r.s.d.), many presumably having a cortical origin, predominated (60-80%) on distal dendrites (greater than 100 microns), but also formed a large proportion (40-70%) of the synapses on the intermediate (50-150 microns) dendrites. Total synaptic contacts for one X-cell and one Y-cell were estimated at about 4000 and 5000, respectively. The major fine structural differences observed between X- and Y-cells were almost entirely related to the retinal afferents. First, the retinal synapses for X-cells were mostly made on to dendritic appendages (spines, etc.), whereas Y-cells had most of their retinal synapses onto the shafts of primary and proximal secondary dendrites (that is, near branch points. Second, the retinal terminals that contacted X-cell dendrites nearly always formed triadic arrangements that included nearby f. terminals, but those on Y-cells rarely did so. Finally, the main type of f. terminals associated with X-cells were morphologically different from most of those associated with the Y-cells, and this also related directly to the triadic arrangements; that is, f. terminals in the triadic arrangements were morphologically distinguishable from f. terminals that did not participate in triadic arrangements.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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