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J Comp Neurol. 1980 Mar 1;190(1):29-48.

Neurons and synaptic patterns in the deep layers of the superior colliculus of the cat. A Golgi and electron microscopic study.


Golgi and electron microscopic observations were made on the neurons in the deep layers (below the stratum opticum) of the cat superior colliculus. Large neurons, 35-60 micrometers in somal diameter, occur mainly in the lateral two-thirds of the colliculus. They have numerous somatic and dendritic spines and receive a large number of axon terminals (bouton covering ratio: more than 70%). The medium-sized neurons (20-30 micrometer), with a moderate number of dendritic spines, show a lower bouton covering ratio (25-30%). The ratio for small neurons (8-15 micrometers), with very few dendritic spines, is less than 10%. The medium-sized and small neurons are distributed throughout the colliculus and show marked variability in the dendritic arrangement. Seven different types of axon terminals were distinguished: types I, II, V, and VII form asymmetrical and types III, IV, and VI symmetrical synapses. Type I terminals represent small boutons containing predominantly spherical vesicles, and are in contact mainly with small dendritic profiles. Type II terminals are medium-sized and slender, contain a mixture of spherical and slightly oval vesicles, and make synaptic contacts with small to medium-sized dendrites and somatic spines. This type of terminal is occasionally presynaptic to vesicle-containing dendrites (type VIII). Type III terminals are small, contain flattened vesicles predominantly, and are presynaptic to a wide variety of neuronal elements in the deep layers of the superior colliculus. Type IV terminals are represented by medium to large-sized boutons that contain pleomorphic vesicles and make synaptic contacts chiefly with the large neurons. Type V and VI terminals exhibit a quite dense axoplasmic matrix and mainly contact the large neurons. Type VII terminals are often in the form of boutons en passant and contain numerous large granular vesicles. Pleomorphic vesicle-containing dendrites (type VIII terminals) are also observed to participate in the axodendrodendritic serial synapses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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