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J Hirnforsch. 1995;36(1):101-11.

Postnatal development of pyramidal dendritic and axonal bundles in the visual cortex of the rat.

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Institute of General Zoology and Neurobiology, Ruhr-University Bochum, F.R.G.


We studied the development and spatial organization of vertically arranged pyramidal dendritic and axonal bundles in the visual cortex of the rat by using extracellular biocytin injections into frontal brain slice preparations. Vertical bundles of intracortical axons could be clearly observed at time of birth with a initial center-to-center distance of 18 microns +/- 3.1 microns. At the same time a clustering of pyramidal cell apical dendrites was completely absent. Dendritic bundles were demonstrated for the first time at postnatal day 5 when the supragranular layer 2/3 begins to differentiate. In the following weeks both axonal as well as dendritic bundles grew continuously and completely in parallel with regard to their center-to-center distances, diameters and number of elements up to their adult values at around postnatal day 90. At adulthood both types of bundles showed a center-to-center distance of 50.1 microns +/- 20.1 microns (axons) and 52.6 microns +/- 18.1 microns (dendrites), respectively. Our results demonstrate that axonal and dendritic bundles originating from the same neurons in the visual cortex of the rat correspond very well with regard to their size and distances. Developing neurons migrating along radial glia fibers group their axons together in fascicles before the lamination of the cortex is completely matured. After all layers have been developed, the apical dendrites of pyramidal cells with aggregated axons also group in clusters. The following development of axonal and dendritic bundles is presumably concerned with the volume increase of the maturating neocortex. Evidence for activity dependent plasticity after eye opening could not be found.

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